Nissan cuts global sales outlook on China slowdown

Tue Nov 4, 2014 6:46am EST
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By Mari Saito and Maki Shiraki

YOKOHAMA Japan (Reuters) - Nissan Motor Co (7201.T: Quote) cut its full-year global vehicle sales forecast on Tuesday, hit by an economic slowdown in China even as strong U.S. sales allowed it to keep its profit targets steady and nudge up its revenue estimate for the year to March.

Nissan, the most exposed of Japan's automakers to the Chinese market, said its vehicle sales in China fell 12 percent in the July-September period and cut its full-year sales forecast for the world's biggest auto market to 1.27 million vehicles from 1.43 million, an 11 percent drop.

"In China, the general weakness in the LCV (light commercial vehicle) segment and increased competition in the compact car segment, as well as the persisting negative impact from political tensions on Japanese brands, hurt sales," Nissan Chief Competitive Officer Hiroto Saikawa told a briefing for reporters.

Nissan operates a car venture with Dongfeng Motor Group Co Ltd (0489.HK: Quote) in China, where anti-pollution regulations and slowing economic growth have weighed down sales of passenger cars and commercial vehicles.

For its second quarter, Japan's No. 2 automaker reported operating profit of 139.34 billion yen ($1.20 billion), up 22.4 percent from a year before and beating the 130.67 billion yen average estimate of 12 analysts polled by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Generous incentives helped to boost Nissan's U.S. sales 13.7 percent for the quarter and it raised its North American auto sales forecast to 1.81 million vehicles, up 3 percent from the prior forecast. Automakers reported their strongest October U.S. sales in a decade with a lift from rising consumer spending and lower gasoline prices.

That helped to offset weakness in Japan, where a sales tax hike in April dampened consumer sentiment and hurt sales.

Nissan also got a boost from a weaker yen, although it benefits least among Japan's automakers from currency effects after shifting much of its output overseas.   Continued...

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