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Nissan profits surge, raises annual forecast

TOKYO, Feb 9, 2011 – Japanese auto giant Nissan on Wednesday said net profit in the fiscal third quarter rose 78 percent as sales in Asia and China offset weak demand at home and the impact of a strong yen.

Unlike its peers Honda and Toyota, Nissan saw third quarter profits rise despite the pressures of softer domestic demand as well as a strong yen making products more expensive overseas and eroding repatriated earnings.

However, Japan\’s big three automakers have all also raised their annual net profit outlooks on strong performances in the nine months to December, suggesting the industry is weathering the yen\’s surge better than expected.

Nissan said its net profit in the three months ended December was 80.1 billion yen ($972 million), compared with 45 billion yen in the same period a year earlier.

The third quarter figure beat expectations for a 58.5 billion yen profit based on a survey of six analysts compiled by the Nikkei business daily.

"Our financial results are evidence that Nissan continues to deliver solid performance," said Nissan President and CEO Carlos Ghosn.

"Though we foresee risks in rising commodity prices and exchange rate volatility in the fourth quarter, we will continue to deliver good results while remaining focused on our strategies to pursue profitable growth."

The result comes despite a 20.5 percent plunge in Japan sales in the three months to December following the expiration of government subsidies to encourage the purchase of environmentally friendly vehicles.

However this was offset by strong demand in Asia, where sales grew 22.1 percent and in China, which saw a 20.4 percent rise in terms of units sold.

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The automaker, which is roughly 43 percent owned by French automaker Renault, also hiked its annual profit forecast to 315 billion yen, up from a projected 270 billion.

Net profit in the nine months to December soared 434.5 percent to 288.4 billion yen, the automaker said in an earnings statement.

Nissan shares closed up 2.52 percent in Tokyo ahead of the announcement.

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