TOKYO – Nissan’s quarterly profit rose nearly 8 percent, but the Japanese automaker lowered its full-year forecasts Tuesday because of a sales slump in China and weakness in Europe.
Nissan Motor Co. reported a July-September net profit of $1.3 billion, slightly better than the $1.2 billion profit forecast by analysts surveyed by FactSet. Quarterly sales improved 5.5 percent to $30 billion.
Anti-Japanese sentiment has flared in recent months in China over a group of tiny islands controlled by Japan but also claimed by Beijing; that sentiment has set off a boycott of Japanese products and some violent protests. Nissan’s sales are also being hit by an economic slowdown in Europe.
Yokohama-based Nissan, which makes the March subcompact, Leaf electric car and the Infiniti luxury model, said it now expects a $4 billion profit for the business year ending March 2013, down 6 percent from the year before. It had previously expected to rake in $5 billion in net profit for the year.
It lowered its vehicle sales forecast as well, to 5.08 million vehicles from 5.35 million vehicles.
That’s still better than the 4.85 million vehicles it sold the previous year, when, like other Japanese automakers, Nissan was devastated by the parts supply disruptions caused by the earthquake and tsunami in northeastern Japan.
Chief Operating Officer Toshiyuki Shiga said Nissan’s sales in China would be 175,000 vehicles lower in the year through March than it originally expected.
He said the company remains committed to China. Nissan isn’t planning major changes in its long-term growth plans in China, but it will weigh future investments cautiously, he said.
“Nissan has produced solid results, despite the harsh conditions,” Shiga told reporters.
Nissan has been a strong player in China, with a lineup of popular trucks and cars, and so it has been hit harder than Japanese rival Toyota Motor Corp., a relative latecomer to the Chinese market.
Toyota raised its full-year profit forecast Monday, though it did lower its vehicle sales forecast slightly to account for the China sales plunge.
Toyota now expects a $9.8 billion profit for the full year, more optimistic than the initial $9.5 billion forecast and nearly triple what it earned the previous year.
Honda Motor Co. pointed to the China problems in lowering its full-year profit forecast last week to $4.7 billion. Its new forecast represents a 78 percent rebound from the previous year.
Nissan said its vehicle sales grew in the United States, Indonesia and India for the July-September quarter, compared with a year earlier.
Nissan lowered its sales forecast for the full fiscal year to $123 billion from $129 billion.