Honda reports quarterly profit rose 8.8 percent, raises full-year earnings forecast

Profit at Honda climbed 8.8 percent for the most recent quarter on strong sales in North America, Europe and Asia, prompting Japan's No. 2 automaker on Wednesday to raise its full-year profit forecast slightly.

Honda Motor Co., which makes Accord and Civic cars, reported group net profit of 144.8 billion yen (US$1.2 billion; Ђ930 million) for October-December, up from 133.1 billion yen the same period a year earlier. It was the first time in three years that earnings in the fiscal third quarter rose year-on-year.

Quarterly sales jumped 12 percent to 2.77 trillion yen (US$22.8 billion; Ђ17.6 billion), marking the seventh straight year of record sales for the fiscal third quarter.

For the year through March, Honda boosted its profit forecast to 560 billion yen (US$4.6 billion; Ђ3.6 billion) up from its earlier forecast of 555 billion yen (US$4.56 billion; Ђ3.5 billion). However, that's down from the previous fiscal year's net profit of 597 billion yen.

Honda kept its sales forecast for the full year unchanged at 11.1 trillion yen (US$91 billion; Ђ70 billion), up 12 percent from the previous year.

Rising gas prices have generally worked as a plus for Japanese automakers, which include Toyota Motor Corp. as well as Honda, because they have a reputation for good mileage.

Honda said auto sales were healthy around the world, but especially in North America, where the Accord compact car and CR-V sport-utility vehicle sold briskly, as well as in China, where the auto market is growing.

Honda sold 915,000 vehicles during the latest quarter, up 12 percent from the same period a year earlier, reports AP.

Although vehicle sales were flat in Japan, they surged 22 percent in Europe, 32.5 percent in Asia and 8.5 percent in North America, the company said.

Sales in revenue also grew in major regions. Honda's sales edged up 9.4 percent in Japan, 9 percent in North America and 22 percent in Asia, it said.

A weak yen also boosted Honda's earnings, adding 10.6 billion yen (US$87 million; Ђ67 million) during the quarter.

Toyota, which is closing in on General Motors of the United States as the world's No. 1 automaker in global vehicle production and sales, reports earnings next week, while Nissan Motor Co., Japan's No. 3 automaker, reports earnings Friday.