Mazda's profit surges on sales recovery

AP News
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Posted: Oct 29, 2010 5:17 AM
Mazda's profit surges on sales recovery

Mazda's second quarter profit surged more than 10-fold as car sales grew at home and abroad, offsetting the effects of a strong yen.

The Japanese automaker reported a profit of 7.62 billion yen ($94.4 million) for July-September on Friday, up from 707 million yen the year before.

The Hiroshima-based manufacturer of the Miata roadster and RX-8 sportscar raised its profit forecast for the full year through March 2011 to 6 billion yen ($74.3 million).

Quarterly sales rose 3.1 percent to 579.66 billion yen ($7.18 billion).

Mazda Motor Corp. said it had strong sales in Japan, North America, China and Thailand, reflecting the popularity of models like the Mazda5 and Mazda2.

The outlook for the auto market remained cloudy in the U.S. and Europe, partly because of the appreciating yen, which can make Japanese exports more expensive.

But demand was robust in Japan in the first half compared with the previous year from rush buying before the expiration of government subsidies for green cars, some of which ran out last month.

Mazda has a partnership with U.S. automaker Ford Motor Co. that goes back more than three decades. There has been speculation that Ford may further reduce its stake in Mazda, which has come down over the years to 11 percent.

But Mazda Chief Executive Takashi Yamanouchi said last week that his company's partnership with Ford remains unchanged. He also denied Mazda was actively looking for other partners.

Speculation has been rife about Mazda forging tie-ups as the industry moves increasingly toward green vehicles that need hefty investments for research, as well as production scale to bring down costs.

Mazda has fallen behind local rivals like Toyota Motor Corp. and Nissan Motor Co. in hybrids and electric vehicles, but it recently showed a super-efficient gasoline engine that boosts mileage.