TOKYO: Japanese automaker Honda said Friday its net profit for the year to March soared 73.6 percent to $3.7 billion, thanks to robust overseas sales, a weaker yen, and cost cutting.
The rosy bottom line figure underscores a recovery among the nation's major automakers after Japan's quake-tsunami disaster in 2011 devastated sales and production, and highlighted strong demand in the key Asian and US markets
The yen, which has lost about one-fifth of its value on the dollar since November, has also helped, boosting Japanese firms' competitiveness overseas and jacking up the value of their repatriated foreign income.
"In general Japan's major automakers showed a brisk performance for the past fiscal year on the back of strong demand in North America and the positive impact of the weak yen," said Shigeru Matsumura, auto analyst with SMBC Friend Securities.
"They are expected to continue to show firm results for the current fiscal year thanks to those issues," he said.
On Friday, Honda, Japan's third-biggest automaker, said it earned 367.15 billion yen ($3.7 billion) on revenue of 9.87 trillion yen, up from 7.95 trillion yen a year earlier.
It also reported an operating profit of 544.8 billion yen, up 135.5 percent from the previous year.
The firm is expecting another strong year to March 2014 with annual net profit of 580 billion yen and operating profit of 780 billion yen, on sales of 12.1 trillion yen.
Many automakers and durable goods producers are expecting sales increases before the government hikes the national sales tax to eight percent from the current five percent over the next year, and eventually 10 percent by 2015.
Japanese industry has also benefited from the big-spending and easy-money policies of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who swept December elections on a promise to inject new life into the world's third-largest economy.
Huge easing measures from Abe's hand-picked team at the Bank of Japan have also pushed down the yen, with the dollar buying 98.69 yen in afternoon Tokyo forex trade on Friday -- from a low around 75 yen in late 2011.
Honda's latest results appeared to cast off a downturn in China stemming from a diplomatic row that sparked a consumer boycott of Japanese goods in the world's biggest vehicle market.
The long-standing dispute flared again in September when Tokyo nationalised some of a tiny East China Sea archipelago that is also claimed by Beijing, setting off huge demonstrations across China and the consumer boycott.
Japanese factories and businesses across China temporarily closed or scaled back operations over fears of being targeted by angry mobs.
The automakers have also been forced to recall millions of vehicles over safety and quality concerns in recent years. (AFP)