* Q4 oper profit down 51 pct at Y14.48 bln vs consensus
* Consensus forecast for 2011/12 Y81.3 bln vs Y106.93 last
* Suzuki shares close up 0.2 pct before results
(Adds comments by CEO, fund manager)
By Chang-Ran Kim
TOKYO, May 10 Suzuki Motor Corp posted
a 51 percent drop in quarterly operating profit on Tuesday and,
like its peers, did not provide forecasts for the new financial
year amid uncertainty over the supply of parts and power.
Like the rest of the industry, Japan's fourth-largest
automaker has been hit by a supply chain disruption since the
earthquake and tsunami on March 11. But its huge exposure to the
fast-growing Indian market, where virtually all parts are
sourced locally, puts it in a better position than Toyota Motor
Corp and Honda Motor Co , analysts said.
Suzuki will operate at about 70 percent of capacity in Japan
this month, compared with about a third for Toyota. Its shares
have also held up better than others in the sector, losing 3.9
percent since the quake against a 9.6 percent drop for Tokyo's
transport sector subindex .
But Chief Executive Officer Osamu Suzuki said he did not
know how much the automaker would be able to produce beyond
"We have no outlook for June and beyond," he told a news
conference. "(This business year) could be tough."
Suzuki's operating profit for January-March fell 51 percent
from the same period last year to 14.48 billion yen ($180
million), according to calculations by Reuters. That came short
of an average estimate of 15.6 billion yen from 14 analysts who
updated their forecasts after the March 11 disaster, according
to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Fourth-quarter net profit fell 81 percent to 2.57 billion
yen while revenues fell 1.4 percent to 680.5 billion yen.
For the new business year that started on April 1, the
consensus forecast of 14 analysts has Suzuki's operating profit
falling to 81.3 billion yen from the 106.93 billion yen booked
in the year that ended on March 31.
Fresh worries about power shortages have surfaced this week
after Chubu Electric Power said on Monday it would shut
down its Hamaoka nuclear power plant in central Japan, at least
temporarily, heeding a request by the government, which is
worried about a repeat of the disaster at Fukushima Daiichi.
Suzuki has all four of its domestic car and motorcycle plants in
Chubu Electric's coverage area, in central Japan.
CEO Suzuki downplayed such concerns, however, saying even at
the peak of power demand last year, the utility had been able to
provide enough power excluding the output from the Hamaoka
plant. He added that as a company and as an individual, he was
relieved at the decision to close the plant.
Tetsuro Ii, chief executive officer of Commons Asset
Management, agreed that power supply would not be an issue.
"Chubu Electric has enough capacity so (the stoppage of the
power plant) should not have a big impact on production," he
"Suzuki -- and Toyota as well -- have taken the stance that
they will comply with calls to reduce electricity use, so at
this time I think (Chubu Electric) will be able to meet demand."
Suzuki's main earnings driver continues to be its biggest
market, India, where growth in car sales is slowing but still
healthy at double-digit percentages. [ID:nSGE73P003]
CEO Suzuki said that with more production capacity coming
online soon, Indian unit Maruti Suzuki India would aim
to keep up double-digit growth to stay ahead of new entrants
such as Toyota and Nissan Motor Co .
He repeated Maruti's warning last month, however, that
demand for cars could be hit by rising interest rates, while
higher commodity and energy prices would pressure profits.
Before the results, Suzuki shares closed up 0.2 percent at
($1 = 80.275 Japanese Yen)
(Additional reporting by James Topham; Editing by Michael