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Nissan Profit Falls 46% on U.S. Automobile Sales

From bloomberg| April 27,2007
Nissan Motor Co., Japan's third-largest carmaker, said fourth-quarter profit fell 46 percent as sales were weaker than expected in the U.S., its biggest market.

Net income fell to 82.2 billion yen ($691 million) in the three months ended March 31, from 152.4 billion yen a year earlier, the company said in a release today. That was less than the 101.6 billion yen average of 16 analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg News. Full-year profit was 460.8 billion yen in line with a revised forecast from February.

A drop in the yen against the dollar cushioned the effect of weaker-than-expected sales in the U.S., as Nissan failed to introduce enough new models to attract customers. Nissan missed earnings and sales targets for the full year for the first time since Carlos Ghosn became president in 2000.

``The weaker yen helped profits in the quarter,'' said Edwin Merner, president of Atlantis Investment Research Corp. in Tokyo, which manages about $2 billion in Japan. ``We are expecting Nissan to do better this year.''

Ghosn, 53, aims to regain investors' confidence with a plan to tackle what he has termed a ``crisis'' at Tokyo- based Nissan, including early retirement offers to workers and changes in management roles. The company in February scaled back its full-year profit forecast 12 percent.

Retirement Incentives

The Tokyo-based carmaker earlier this week said it will offer incentives to workers in Japan to save costs, the first time in eight years it has offered early retirements. The automaker has offered a similar early retirement program in the U.S., where more than double the expected number of employees accepted the package.

Nissan, along with Honda Motor Co., gained from a weaker yen against the dollar in the quarter. A drop in the yen against the dollar benefits Japanese automakers by boosting the value of sales in the U.S., their biggest market.

The automaker forecasts net income to rise 4.2 percent to 480 billion yen for the year ending in March.

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