Mitsubishi bounces back to profitability

TOKYO — Rebounding Mitsubishi Motors Corp. stepped up its recovery in the latest quarter, bouncing back to profitability on better sales and beneficial foreign exchange rates.

The Japanese automaker forecast steady operating profit in the current fiscal year, citing continued momentum of a more profitable product mix, despite rising procurement costs.

In the fiscal fourth quarter ended March 31, Mitsubishi booked operating profit of ¥31.4 billion ($257.6 million), reversing an ¥8.6 billion yen ($70.6 million) operating loss a year earlier, the company said May 10 while announcing its fiscal-year financial results.

Mitsubishi reported net income of $240.4 million in the three-month period, erasing a $560.3 million net loss from the same quarter a year earlier.

Global retail sales expanded 8.7 percent to 250,000 vehicles in the quarter, as robust demand in North America, Australia and Southeast Asia offset slumping deliveries in Japan and Europe.

Revenue increased 24 percent to $5.11 billion in the three months.

Parent company fourth-quarter results got a boost from higher volume and beneficial foreign exchange rates, adding $135.4 million to Mitsubishi’s bottom line.

North American retail sales rose to 40,000 units in the quarter, from 38,000 the year before, as Mitsubishi cashed in on the popularity of its redesigned Outlander crossover.

Mitsubishi’s European sales shrank to 29,000 units, from 33,000 vehicles the year before, while sales in the Japanese home market declined to 26,000 units from 30,000 a year earlier.

For the full fiscal year ended March 31, Mitsubishi rebounded from a big operating loss in the previous fiscal year to a$716.1 million operating profit.

Net income also recovered from a loss, rising to $607.0 million.

Global sales rose 17 percent to 937,000 in the 12-month period.

Looking ahead to the fiscal year ending March 31, 2023, Mitsubishi forecast global sales will hold steady at around 938,000 vehicles. It expects operating profit to inch ahead to $738.3 million while net income crab-walks to around $615.2 million.

Rising costs for raw materials, parts procurement, factory expenses and shipping are seen denting rising revenue as the mix of product turns more profitable with model launches.

Mitsubishi predicts that North American sales will expand 6 percent to 166,000 vehicles this fiscal year. Sales in Europe, by contrast, should crater 53 percent to 56,000.

Naoto Okamura contributed to this report