Subaru parent ups profit forecast, cites better pricing

TOKYO Tue Oct 23, 2012 1:26am EDT

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japanese automaker Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd (7270.T) raised its forecast operating profit for the six months to September by 34 percent, as higher prices for its Subaru brand cars in the United States more than offset lower sales in China.

Subaru sales rose 27 percent between April and September in North America, which accounts for half of its global sales, slightly ahead of the firm's own forecast.

The U.S. sales gains came despite very low discounting on Subaru cars and SUVs. Unlike its larger rivals Toyota motor (7203.T) and Nissan Motor (7201.T), Subaru has taken advantage of recovering U.S. demand without offering cashback rebates on models like the Forester and Outback.

Fuji Heavy said in a statement it now expected a first-half operating profit of 43 billion yen ($539 million), up from a previous forecast of 32 billion yen.

The firm saw sales fall 64 percent in September in China, following a territorial row that sparked anti-Japan protests and boycotts of Japanese goods. China accounts for about 7 percent of total sales.

The automaker, which said overall vehicle sales for the half were below its forecast, is set to announce further details when it releases its second-quarter earnings on October 30.

Shares in Fuji Heavy rose 4.2 percent in a slightly firmer overall market.

($1 = 79.8200 Japanese yen)

(Reporting by Yoko Kubota; Editing by Richard Pullin)

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