TOKYO, April 25 (Reuters) - Mazda Motor Corp forecast an 18 percent rise in net profit for the year to next March, aiming for a second year in a row of record earnings as a weaker yen bolsters the export-oriented automaker's business.
The company forecast a 2014/15 net profit of 160 billion yen ($1.57 billion), roughly in line with the 170 billion yen mean estimate of 18 analysts polled by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
For the latest quarter to end-March, the second-tier Japanese automaker reported a net profit of 58.3 billion yen, nearly seven times the year-earlier result, boosted by a decline in the value of the yen and strong sales in Japan.
In the current fiscal year, the company forecast a drop in sales in Japan as a sales tax hike eats into demand, although this would be more than offset by growth in key overseas markets.
Shares of Mazda closed 0.2 percent lower ahead of the result, compared with a 0.2 percent gain in the benchmark Nikkei average. Since the start of the year, Mazda's shares have lost 15 percent, roughly in line with the benchmark's 11 percent drop.
$1 = 102.2350 Japanese Yen Reporting by Edmund Klamann; Editing by Christopher Cushing