YOKOHAMA, July 25 (Reuters) - Nissan Motor Co beat expectations with a 14 percent rise in quarterly net profit on Thursday after stronger sales in the United States helped offset a sluggish performance in its key Chinese market.
Japan’s second-biggest automaker by sales volume said net profit totalled 82.02 billion yen ($818.9 million) its April-June first quarter, compared with 71.97 billion yen a year earlier. The result was above the average estimate of 63.8 billion yen in a Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S poll of five analysts.
For its fiscal year ending in March 2014, Nissan stuck to its forecast for 420 billion yen in net profit, below expectations of 467 billion yen in a survey of 21 analysts.
China - Nissan’s biggest market for the last four years - accounted for about a quarter of its sales volume last year, making Nissan the most reliant on China among Japan’s carmakers. But sales for it and other Japanese automakers have suffered since a diplomatic row between Tokyo and Beijing last September.
In the first six months of 2013, Nissan sold 591,664 vehicles in China, down 12.7 percent from a year earlier. By contrast, sales in the United States grew 8 percent to 624,709 vehicles in the same period.
Nissan expects the United States to surpass China as its top market this fiscal year, as it recovers from vehicle launch hiccups last year and cuts prices on models including the Altima sedan to stimulate demand.
Nissan, owned 43.4 percent by French alliance partner Renault SA, is the first of Japan’s big three automakers to announce quarterly results. Japan’s third-biggest automaker Honda Motor Co will report results on July 31 and market leader Toyota Motor Corp on Aug 2.