* Q3 operating profit seen down 15 pct at 113.9 bln yen
* Nissan's 485 bln yen FY profit forecast lags 534 bln yen consensus
* Q3 to drop less than Toyota, Honda on industry-beating sales
* Results to be announced at 0725 GMT
By Chang-Ran Kim, Asia autos correspondent
TOKYO, Feb 9 Nissan Motor Co is expected to report a
smaller decline in quarterly profit than its domestic rivals as a slew of new
model launches helped Japan's No.2 automaker beat the industry's sales growth in
Nissan has been a standout particularly in China, where its line-up is heavy
in smaller cars such as the Tiida compact, which qualified for tax incentives.
Nissan was also among the only brands to grow in the tepid European market as
consumers liked the new Juke crossover and demand stayed strong for the older
Nissan's third-quarter operating profit is expected to fall 15 percent to
113.9 billion yen ($1.38 billion), according to a Reuters poll of eight
That would bring its nine-month profit within 36 billion yen of its annual
forecast of 485 billion yen and could prompt Nissan to lift its forecasts,
analysts said. A survey of 26 analysts by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S put the annual
profit at 534 billion yen.
Nissan's profits made in China are counted at the operating level, unlike
for Toyota Motor Corp and Honda Motor Co , because it reports
under Japanese accounting rules.
Chief Executive Carlos Ghosn has aggressively pushed Nissan into
fast-growing markets such as China, India and Russia, and is credited for
raising its profile as a pioneer in electric cars with the launch of the Leaf,
the world's first mass-volume EV, in December.
In the third quarter, Nissan's global retail sales grew 15 percent, bringing
its 2010 tally to a record 4.08 million units and ahead of Honda to rank second
among Japanese automakers.
Nissan, owned 43 percent by France's Renault SA , also outperformed
in the U.S. market but is set to face tougher competition this year as Toyota
and Honda remodel top-selling cars such as the Camry and Civic.
A slowdown in China's overall car demand could also hit Nissan the hardest
after the government pulled the plug on incentives on smaller cars at the end of
While analysts are bullish on Nissan's near-term growth prospects, Ghosn is
under the gun to provide a clearer direction for partner Renault, which has
struggled due to its heavy reliance on the sluggish European market. Renault is
set to announce a new strategic six-year plan on Thursday.
Honda Motor Co last week posted a 29 percent fall in quarterly
operating profit, while Toyota Motor Corp reported a 48 percent drop on
Shares in Nissan have risen 13 percent in the past three months, compared
with 22 percent for Honda and 18 percent for Toyota.
(Editing by Dhara Ranasinghe)