US Market Is Keeping Nissan Afloat as Japan, China Sales Slow

Feb 09, 2015 05:00 PM EST | Jordan Ecarma

Gains in the North American market helped mitigate losses in Japan and China for Nissan, the automaker posting a quarterly profit that nearly doubled year over year.

For the fiscal third quarter that ended in December, Nissan's operating profit rose from 78.74 billion yen, or $656.2 million, to 155.97 billion yen, or $1.3 billion, compared with the same period the previous year.

In the three-month period, North American sales increased 8.9 percent to 441,000 vehicles, while sales volume in Europe grew 23 percent to 200,000 units. Operating profit in North America rose to 81.64 billion yen from 3.44 billion yen, or $28.7 million.

Nissan didn't fare so well in Asian markets; Japanese sales dropped 16 percent to 126,000 vehicles, while volume in China fell by 12 percent, according to Automotive News.

Nissan's sales worldwide advanced 1.6 percent to 1.254 million vehicles, and revenue increased 17 percent to 2.944 trillion yen, $24.55 billion.

The automaker has cut its global sales forecast for the fiscal year ending on March 31 by 150,000 vehicles. Factoring in slowing sales in China, Japan and Europe, Nissan has predicted a 2.2 percent to 5.3 million vehicles, which would compare with 5.188 million units the previous year.

In Europe, Nissan expects sales of 740,000 vehicles, down from an earlier forecast of 780,000 units.

Russia is another problematic market as the country battles a recession. Nissan is depending on successful sales in the United States to help make up for losses there and in China and Japan. The Japanese automaker has raised North American sales targets to 1.82 million vehicles, which would reflect a 10 percent increase year over year.

"The U.S. is their biggest cash cow," Koji Endo, auto analyst at Advanced Research Japan, told Bloomberg. "The strong trend will continue for a while and they will keep enjoying the ride in that market."

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