Mazda targets record profits after big Q3 gain in net income

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TOKYO -- Net income at Mazda Motor Corp. more than doubled in the October-December quarter, as higher sales and a weaker yen put the company on the path to record profits.

Net income totaled 52.4 billion yen ($498.0 million) in the company's fiscal third quarter ended Dec. 31, the Japanese carmaker said while announcing financial results today.

That compares with 19.9 billion yen ($189.1 million) a year earlier.

Global revenue increased 34 percent to 685.9 billion yen ($6.52 billion) in the three months, while unit sales advanced 15 percent to 322,000 vehicles, the automaker said.

Like its Japanese competitors, Mazda is benefiting from the yen's weakening against foreign currencies, including the dollar. But the small, export-dependent carmaker is also gaining momentum on structural reforms implemented by previous CEO Takashi Yamanouchi, such as the rollout of a new drivetrain and manufacturing strategy.

Vehicles using Mazda's Skyactiv suite of fuel-efficient engines and lightweight architecture garner higher margins and now account for 48 percent of its global product mix.

Meanwhile, the weaker yen increases the yen value of overseas earnings when repatriated to Japan and makes Japanese exports more competitive internationally.

Mazda did not detail third quarter currency gains. But for the first nine months of the year, Mazda booked a foreign exchange gain of 97.0 billion yen ($921.9 million), with the weakening against the dollar accounting for about a third of that amount.

The yen has lost about 24 percent of its value against dollar in the past year and fell 26 percent against the euro last year.

Buoyed by rising sales and the favorable exchange rate, Mazda is targeting record net and operating income in the current fiscal year ending March 31.

The automaker predicts net income will more than double to a new all-time high of 110 billion yen ($1.05 billion) in the current fiscal year ending March 31 from 34.3 billion yen ($326.0 million) the year before. That would eclipse Mazda's record net income of 91.8 billion yen ($872.5 million) from the fiscal year ended March 31, 2008.

Operating profit, meanwhile, is predicted to more than triple to 180.0 billion yen ($1.71 billion), beating the current high of 162.1 billion yen ($1.54 billion), also booked in the fiscal year ended March 2008, which was before the global financial crisis hit.

Sales outlook

Mazda trimmed its global unit sales outlook to 1.325 million vehicles for the current fiscal year ending March 31, 2014, from an earlier outlook of 1.335 million vehicles, citing weakness in Thailand. The carmaker says it expects full-year deliveries to reach 160,000 in Europe.

The revised global sales goal still represents a 7 percent increase over the previous year.

Mazda said it sold 953,000 vehicles globally in the first nine months, 7 percent more than the year before. In Europe, sales rose 27 percent to 109,000 in the same period, with 35,000 of those sales coming in the third quarter, a rise of 35 percent, the automaker said.

Automotive News Europe contributed to this report

You can reach Hans Greimel at hgreimel@crain.com. -- Follow Hans on Twitter

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