Nissan aims to boost U.S. sales and profit as it closes on Honda

Mon Jul 28, 2014 6:30am EDT
 
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By Yoko Kubota

YOKOHAMA Japan (Reuters) - Nissan Motor Co Ltd (7201.T: Quote) aims to boost sales and profitability in the United States, its biggest market, an executive said, after Japan's No.2 automaker posted a 14 percent rise in quarterly U.S. sales, closing in on rival Honda Motor Co (7267.T: Quote).

For the April-June quarter, Nissan posted a 4.3 percent quarterly operating profit margin for North America, up from the 3.8 percent it booked the same period a year ago. It sold around 350,000 vehicles in the United States, helped by the popular Altima sedan and Rogue SUV and a new dealership programme.

In the first six months of the year, Nissan's U.S. sales grew 12.8 percent, making it the sixth-best selling carmaker in the country. It surpassed Hyundai Motor Co (005380.KS: Quote) and is closing in on Honda, whose sales fell 0.8 percent during the same period.

"It's a good thing that the gap between Honda is shrinking," Vice President Joji Tagawa told a news conference. "But in the end, our goal is to boost our own sales and profitability."

Helped by strong U.S. sales, Nissan's April-June operating profit rose a higher-than-expected 13.4 percent to 122.6 billion yen ($1.20 billion), exceeding analyst estimates. It stuck with an operating profit forecast of 535 billion yen for the financial year ending in March 2015.

NEW PROGRAM FOR U.S. DEALERS

Nissan's U.S. boost comes after Jose Munoz took over the company's struggling North American operations in January, tasked by Nissan's chief executive, Carlos Ghosn, to improve sales, profitability and market share.   Continued...

 
A pedestrian and cars are reflected in a Nissan Motor logo at the company's dealership in Tokyo July 28, 2014. REUTERS/Toru Hanai