Japan's Mazda swings back to $341 million profit for April-December period

TOKYO (AFP) - Japanese car giant Mazda on Wednesday said it swung back to a profit in the nine months to December as it boosted its full-year earnings forecast.

Japan's fifth-biggest automaker logged a net profit of 25.6 billion yen (S338 million) for the April-December period, reversing its net loss of 112.8 billion yen a year earlier. Sales rose 8.5 per cent to 1.54 trillion yen, it said.

It credited the results to a bounce in sales and cost-cutting after suffering a double punch from a strong yen and falling demand in key markets during the corresponding period in 2011, when manufacturers were also hit by effects of Japan's quake-tsunami disaster.

In China, Mazda sold 129,000 vehicles for the nine-month period, down 21.5 per cent from a year earlier, "but sales are on a recovery trend," it said, echoing similar comments from Toyota, Japan's biggest automaker.

On Tuesday, Toyota said the China market was improving as it net profit in the nine months to December quadrupled while it also lifted its full-year earnings outlook.

Demand for Japanese cars in China, the world's biggest vehicle market, plunged last year in the wake of a consumer boycott sparked by a territorial spat between Tokyo and Beijing over an East China Sea island chain.

Mazda also said it was projecting a full-year net profit of 26 billion yen, up from an earlier estimate of 10 billion yen, while sales are forecast to be 2.19 trillion yen, compared with an earlier 2.17 trillion yen prediction.

Japan's automakers have been posting strong results, underscoring their recovery from the twin disasters and the surging value of the yen, which has been in steep decline in recent months.

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