Moody's on Tuesday upgraded Japan's Nissan Motor by one notch to Baa1, citing the automaker's profitability and its global market position amid easing concerns over the impact of the March 11 disasters. The rating is the eighth-best on a scale of 19. Moody's added that the outlook was positive and the rating could be further upgraded if Nissan sustains its improvements in the face of a strong yen, rising raw materials prices and increasing competition.
"Previously, upward movement in the rating had been constrained by concerns that operations would be severely impacted by supply-chain disruptions following the March 11 earthquake," Moody's Japan K.K, the Japanese unit of the US ratings firm, said in a statement.
"However, Nissan's production has recovered faster than expected and ahead of its peers. In May, its global production rose 19 percent year-on-year after a 22 percent fall in April, the month after the quake."
Moody's also cited Nissan's improving operating profit margins and balance sheet in the years since the financial crisis.
The March 11 earthquake and tsunami devastated swathes of Japan's northeastern coast and shattered component supply chains, forcing companies such as carmakers and electronics firms to shutter plants.
Power shortages also disrupted production.
However, Japanese industry has mounted a faster-than-expected recovery.
In June, Nissan's global production grew 18.5 percent year-on-year to 419,831 units, while that of Toyota and Honda declined by 7.9 percent and 44.5 percent respectively.
Nissan is 43.4 percent owned by French ally Renault, another factor to its advantage, said Moody's.
"The Renault-Nissan alliance provides various mutual benefits to both companies, including lower costs through economies of scale, access to markets where one party has strengths, and efficiencies in product development," Moody's said.
Also on Tuesday, Nissan said it and its Chinese partner Dongfeng Motor Co. will invest 50 billion yuan ($8 billion) and launch around 30 models in China over the next five years.