(Adds financial results, details)
By Chang-Ran Kim
TOKYO May 10 Japan's Fuji Heavy Industries
reported its highest annual operating profit in nine
years and appointed a new president to lead the maker of Subaru
cars through the next phase of growth once the dust settles from
the disastrous earthquake in March.
The smallest of Japan's eight car makers has been one of the
fastest-growing brands in the industry, with a stellar run
especially in its key U.S. market.
But the March 11 earthquake and the disruption to the supply
chain it caused have snapped its sales momentum, causing a loss
of 15,000 units in car sales in the few weeks remaining in the
business year that ended on March 31.
"We were in a position where as long as we built the cars,
they were selling," CEO Ikuo Mori told a news conference. "In
that sense, the timing is very regrettable."
Fuji Heavy posted an operating profit of 84.1 billion yen
($1.1 billion) last business year, about three times the 27.4
billion yen booked in 2009/10. An executive said that without
the sales loss of 15,000 cars, the profit would have been 6
billion yen higher.
Annual net profit was a record 50.3 billion yen, compared
with a loss of 16.45 billion yen a year earlier, as revenue grew
11 percent to 1.58 trillion yen, also a record.
Fuji Heavy refrained from giving a forecast for the new
business year, saying its production outlook was still unclear.
Mori said he expected a return to normal production by
around November, with parts supply gradually flowing in from the
third quarter. Fuji Heavy was mostly building cars using
inventory now, and parts may run out around summer, he said.
Mori on Tuesday also named Corporate Executive Vice
President Yasuyuki Yoshinaga to succeed him as president pending
approval at the annual shareholders meeting on June 24. Mori
will become chairman and retain his position as chief executive
Yoshinaga, 57, joined Fuji Heavy in 1977 and was
instrumental in turning U.S. sales company Subaru of America
into a wholly owned unit in 1990. He is currently head of
Subaru's domestic sales and marketing division.
($1 = 80.275 Japanese Yen)
(Reporting by Chang-Ran Kim; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)