Source AP ©

Nissan 4Q income jumps

By Anastasia Tomazhenkova: Nissan October-December net income jumped 26.6 percent. The company kept its full year forecasts as strong sales appeared to quell looming worries about a U.S. slowdown and an unfavorably strong yen.

Income at Nissan Motor Co., which has an alliance with Renault SA of France, rose to 132.22 billion yen (1.24 billion dollars) for the fiscal third quarter from 104.46 billion yen the same period the previous year.

Quarterly sales climbed 18.2 percent to 2.770 trillion yen (26.03 billion dollars), helped by brisk sales of the Rogue crossover vehicle in the U.S.

Earnings at Japan's No. 3 automaker, which also makes the Z sportscar, Altima coupe and Infiniti luxury models, were in line with forecasts, but its bottom line could be endangered in coming months amid worries about slower American consumer spending, the company said.

Also, a weaker dollar, which has dropped recently to about 106 yen from 114 yen last year, could eat into foreign revenue.

But so far demand for Nissan vehicles has remained strong in the U.S. and in emerging markets such as the Middle East, China and Russia. Even in the domestic Japanese market, the company boosted its market share, it said.

"Despite the headwinds that affect our industry, Nissan has benefited from the success of the new products launched during the past 12 months," said Nissan Chief Executive Carlos Ghosn, who also heads Renault.

Nissan sold 898,000 vehicles worldwide in the quarter ended Dec. 31, up 13 percent from the same period a year earlier. American sales accounted for 255,000 vehicles, or 28 percent.

Nissan kept unchanged its profit forecast for the full fiscal year through March at 480 billion yen (4.5 billion dollars).

For the nine months through December, Nissan's profit declined 9 percent to 344.64 billion yen (3.24 billion dollars). Sales for the period rose 13.9 percent to 7.835 trillion yen (73.64 billion dollars).

Nissan said recently the combined global sales for 2007 for the Renault-Nissan alliance totaled a record 6.16 million vehicles, up 4.2 percent from the previous year. Sales growth for the two companies was highest in Russia, South America, China, the Middle East and Africa, Nissan said. Renault owns 44 percent of Nissan.

Like Nissan, Japanese automakers appear to be holding up so far despite a troubled U.S. economy, a soaring yen and volatile stock markets.

Earlier this week, Honda Motor Co., the nation's second-biggest automaker, reported a 38.1 percent jump in profit for the October-December quarter. Toyota Motor Corp. reports earnings next week.

Nissan share prices dipped 0.7 percent to 1,006 yen (9.45 dollars) in Tokyo. Earnings were announced after trading closed.

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