Visitors look around vehicles at the showroom of the headquarters of Japan
Tokyo - AFP
Nissan on Wednesday said strong North American sales drove it to another surging profit, as the world's top auto market China shows signs of picking up.
The Altima sedan maker said its April-December net profit jumped nearly 34 percent from a year earlier to 452.8 billion yen ($3.7 billion), despite weakness in Japan and emerging markets.
Nissan, which also said revenue jumped more than 10 percent to 8.94 trillion yen, is the last of Japan's Big Three automakers to report its nine-month results.
The company left unchanged its fiscal year to March profit forecast.
"Nissan has been strong in North America while sales in China are steady so the upward trend is likely to continue for now," said Shigeru Matsumura, analyst at SMBC Friend Research Center, who pointed to the rollout of small sport utility vehicles in Asia's top economy.
Japan's automakers have also been looking to lure rival Volkswagen's customers as the German giant deals with a massive pollution cheating scandal.
"Volkswagen is in a severe situation," said Rakuten Securities analyst Yasuo Imanaka.
"Japanese automakers can take advantage of the slump by winning Volkswagen customers. It could be a plus for them."
Nissan and its top domestic rivals, Toyota and Honda, have benefited from healthy growth in the US where low interest rates proved a boon to consumers, although the slim possibility of rate hikes this year could dampen sales.
Weakening demand in emerging markets such as Thailand and Indonesia, as well as a planned consumption tax hike in Japan next year, could also eat into the market.
"In Japan and certain emerging markets, we have seen some challenges, but there is a positive trend in North America so we have not revised our forecast," Nissan corporate vice-president Joji Tagawa told reporters.
He added that China, where Nissan's latest sales edged up two percent, was showing signs of a stronger pick up, amid fears that a slowdown in the world's number two economy threatened car demand.
Rival Toyota has said its latest net profit jumped nearly 10 percent to 1.9 trillion yen, despite falling sales in most regions except North America, with the world's top automaker focused on squeezing more productivity out of its plants.
Honda also said North America was a bright spot that helped offset sluggish sales at home, as Japan's economy stumbles and younger people increasingly turn away from owning a car.
Nissan credited new models in North America and in Europe for driving up sales.
"Our product offensive has reaped rewards in North America and Western Europe, where buoyant consumer demand and rising unit sales underpinned Nissan's overall profit-growth," Carlos Ghosn, president and chief executive officer, said in a statement.
For the nine-month period, Nissan's global unit sales figure rose 1.4 percent to 3.89 million vehicles.