Honda lifts forecasts despite ninth-month profit drop

TOKYO (APP): Japan’s Honda Motor said Friday it was revising up forecasts for its full-year net profit despite logging a fall of 34.5 percent for the nine months to December. The country’s third-largest automaker revised up its full year net profit to 695 billion yen ($6.3 billion) from the previous forecast of 675 billion yen, while also lifting annual sales to 15.85 trillion yen from 15.80 trillion.

For April-December, net profit fell to 623.3 billion yen “due mainly to the impacts of the enactment of the US tax cuts and Jobs Act in the same period last year”, Honda said.

Operating profit fell 3.2 percent mainly because of decreased sales revenue, as well as increased sales and administrative costs and “negative foreign currency effects”, it added.

The company said auto sales in Japan grew 4.4 percent but US sales slipped 2.6 percent to 1.242 million units. Sales in China, where the economy is suffering a growth slowdown, also fell.

But motorcycle sales climbed 6.6 percent in emerging Asian markets including India, Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia, it said.

“Honda has been enjoying strong sales of motorcycles especially in Southeast Asia,” Satoru Takada, an analyst at TIW, a Tokyo-based research and consulting firm, told AFP ahead of the earnings report.

“Motorcycles are Honda’s advantage, which its rivals do not have,” he said.

But he added that “Japanese carmakers are bracing for the impact of the US-China trade dispute, which has already been visible on raw material costs.”