TOKYO - Poor sales at home and financial problems abroad, whether from the Asian economic crisis or losses in North America, combined to pull down earnings for most Japanese car companies in the fiscal year that ended 31 March.
Earlier, Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co. reported record profits. Nissan Motor Co. and Mitsubishi Motors Corp. fell deeply into the red (see story at left).
Earnings slumped at Fuji Heavy, Isuzu Motors and Suzuki Motor, but Mazda Motor Co. showed it is getting back on track.
Despite improvement in its North American operations, lingering losses there kept Mazda in the red on a consolidated, or group, basis.
But the net loss narrowed sharply to the equivalent of $51.5 million from $132.8 million a year earlier as group revenue rose 7.8 percent to $15.5 billion.
Pretax profit fell 54.3 percent to $5.8 million, due in part to accounting changes when Mazda merged its two US operations.
Mazda forecasts a group net profit of $227 million in the current fiscal year, its first black ink in six years. That, it predicts, will allow it to pay its first dividend in six years, which is good news for Ford Motor Co., which owns 33.4 percent of Mazda.
Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd.'s group net income fell 22.4 percent to $232.5 million. An extraordinary loss of $26.2 million was related to a recall of 1.47 million cars in Japan. It paid more taxes, too.
Pretax income rose 43 percent to $392.2 million. Revenue rose 6.6 percent to $9.9 billion on strong exports to the USA. Sales fell in Japan.
Isuzu Motors Ltd. increased exports by 21.5 percent, which raised total unit sales 2.0 percent to 356,481. However, revenue fell 6.4 percent to $13.6 billion, and net income slid 37 percent to $45.7 million.
Isuzu was hit by losses at its subsidiaries, especially those in Southeast Asia. The company predicts a home-market upturn in the second half of the current year, but it expects production and sales in Southeast Asia to get worse. General Motors owns 37 percent of Isuzu.
Like most of the industry, Suzuki Motor Corp. spent more on marketing to try to boost sales in Japan's sluggish market. It didn't work.
Unit sales and revenue both fell. Pretax profit fell 22 percent, and net profit fell 10 percent. Suzuki predicted further declines in revenue and earnings this year.