Nissan cuts FY profit forecast after China sales tumble

YOKOHAMA, Japan Tue Nov 6, 2012 2:42am EST

YOKOHAMA, Japan Nov 6 (Reuters) - Nissan Motor Co cut its full-year net profit forecast by 20 percent to 320 billion yen ($3.99 billion), joining rival Honda Motor, after car sales tumbled in China, the world's biggest autos market, amid anti-Japanese protests over a territorial dispute.

The average forecast of 25 analysts by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S was for annual net profit of 378 billion yen. Thomson Reuters StarMine's SmartEstimate, which places greater emphasis on timely forecasts by top-rated analysts, forecast 360 billion yen.

July-September net profit rose 7.7 percent to 106 billion yen, Nissan said on Tuesday, despite lower than expected car sales in the United States and Europe. That beat an average estimate for 91.4 billion yen by seven analysts polled by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Demand for Nissan, Toyota Motor and Honda cars virtually halved in China in the past two months, with Nissan and its China joint venture selling 64,300 vehicles in the local market in October, down 41 percent from a year ago.

Nissan is the most exposed to China among Japan's leading carmakers. China is Nissan's biggest market by car sales volume, accounting for around 27 percent of its vehicle sales.

In the United States, Nissan's second-biggest market, the firm faced a production delay around July when it began selling its latest Altima mid-sized sedan in North America.

Shares in Nissan, 43.4 percent-held by France's Renault SA and valued at close to $39 billion, have slipped 2 percent so far this year, trailing Toyota's 26 percent gain and Honda's around 3 percent rise.

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