Automaker rebounds with focus on utility vehicles and EVs

Mitsubishi boosts profit on weaker yen

Automaker rebounds with focus on utility vehicles and EVs

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TOKYO -- Mitsubishi Motors Corp. swung to a net profit in the October-December quarter and reported a fourfold increase in operating profit, as a weaker yen bolstered results.

Net income totaled 41.7 billion yen ($396.3 million) in the company's fiscal third quarter ended Dec. 31, compared with a loss of 12.8 billion yen ($121.6 million) a year earlier, the carmaker said Tuesday while announcing financial results.

Operating profit soared to 45.5 billion yen ($432.4 million), from 10.1 billion yen ($96.0 million) the year before.

Global revenue advanced 38 percent to 589.7 billion yen ($5.70 billion) in the three months. Worldwide unit sales climbed 13 percent to 277,000 vehicles in the period.

Mitsubishi's finances are rebounding from years of losses to record profits, because of favorable currency rates and a restructuring plan set in place by President Osamu Masuko. Mitsubishi hit record net income last year and targets record operating profit this year.

Under a new three-year business plan Masuko unveiled in November, Mitsubishi will refocus its lineup on utility vehicles and electrified drivetrains.

It will also lean heavily on emerging markets. The goal is to boost global sales 34 percent to 1.43 million units from this year's forecast of 1.065 million units.

Earnings also got a big boost from the yen's tumbling value against foreign currencies, including the U.S. dollar, the euro and Thai baht. A weaker yen increases the yen value of overseas earnings when repatriated to Japan and makes Japanese exports more competitive internationally. Mitsubishi did not detail third quarter currency gains.

But for the first nine months of the year, Mitsubishi booked a foreign exchange windfall of 55.0 billion yen ($522.7 million). The yen has lost about 24 percent of its value against dollar in the past year, Mitsubishi said.

For the first nine months, global unit sales rose 7 percent to 776,000 vehicles. North American sales posted the fastest gains, though off a tiny base figure. They climbed 12 percent to 70,000 in the first April-December period, Mitsubishi said.

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

It predicts net income will more than double to a new all-time high of 100 billion yen ($950.4 million) in the current fiscal year ending March 31, 2014, from a record 38 billion yen ($361.1 million) the year before. Operating profit, meanwhile, is predicted to be a record 120.0 billion yen ($1.14 billion), up from 67.4 billion ($640.6 million) last year.

Revenue is now expected to climb 16 percent to 2.11 trillion yen ($20.1 billion) in the fiscal full-year, from 1.815 trillion yen ($17.2 billion) the year before. That is shy of Mitsubishi's record revenue of 2.682 trillion yen ($25.49 billion), achieved in the fiscal year ended March 31, 2003.

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

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