Nissan quarterly profit drops 20 percent

July 27, 2011 - 6:59 AM

TOKYO (AP) — Nissan's quarterly profit dropped 20 percent as Japanese automakers took a battering from the quake and tsunami disaster that disrupted car production and destroyed dealerships.

A soaring yen and rising material costs also helped drag net profit for the fiscal first quarter down to 85 billion yen ($1 billion) from 106.6 billion yen in the April-June quarter last year, Nissan Motor Co. said Wednesday.

But Nissan Chief Executive Carlos Ghosn said the numbers show the maker of the Leaf electric car and Infiniti luxury models is holding up despite the huge odds.

The magnitude-9.0 earthquake on March 11 in northeastern Japan destroyed key suppliers of components, disrupting production for all Japanese automakers.

But Nissan's production has been recovering faster than its rivals — and Nissan officials acknowledge faster than they had expected themselves.

The result also outdid forecasts. A FactSet survey of analysts forecast a profit of 55 billion yen ($705 million).

Nissan sold 1.056 million vehicles in the quarter, up 10.6 percent from a year earlier. Quarterly sales edged up 1.6 percent to 2.08 trillion yen ($26.7 billion).

"Our rapid recovery from the natural disasters in March once again shows the power of Nissan in responding effectively and decisively to crisis," Ghosn said.

Last month, Ghosn disclosed a six-year growth plan, his most ambitious since the revival plan for Nissan that he set in motion in 1999. At that time, Nissan was on the verge of collapse, and Ghosn was sent in by alliance partner Renault SA to turn it around.