Dongfeng Motor 2012 profit down 13 pct on weak Japanese car sales

HONG KONG, March 27 Wed Mar 27, 2013 8:05am EDT

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HONG KONG, March 27 (Reuters) - Dongfeng Motor Group , China's second-largest automaker, posted a 13 percent fall in 2012 profit, its biggest drop since 2005 due to sluggish sales of Japanese cars made at its China ventures following the outbreak of a territorial row between the two countries.

Dongfeng, which counts Nissan Motor Co and Honda Motor Co among its partners, earned 9.1 billion yuan in net profit last year, down from 10.5 billion yuan a year earlier and compared with a consensus forecast of 8.5 billion yuan of 3 analysts polled by Thomson Reuters.

Its outlook may improve moderately in 2013 as new models, including the new Teana, which was launched earlier this month through its joint venture with Nissan, bring consumers back to the showrooms, analysts say.

A recovery in China's economy would also help boost demand for Dongfeng's medium and heavy truck business, which took a hit last year due to a slowdown in construction activity, they said.

Dongfeng's Hong Kong-listed shares closed at HK$10.50 on Wednesday, up 2.92 percent ahead of the release of its annual earnings and beating a 0.69 percent rise of the Hang Seng Index . ($1 = 6.2118 Chinese yuan) (Reporting by Lee Chyen Yee in HONG KONG and Fang Yan in BEIJING; editing by James Jukwey)

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