November 2, 2017 / 8:23 AM / a year ago

Mazda operating profit edges up in second-quarter on yen, China sales boost

TOKYO (Reuters) - Mazda Motor Corp (7261.T) on Thursday reported a 1.9 percent rise in operating profit for the second quarter, supported by a weak yen while vehicle sales increased in China and at home, offsetting weakness in the United States.

The logo of Mazda Motor Corp. is pictured at the 45th Tokyo Motor Show in Tokyo, Japan October 25, 2017. Picture taken October 25, 2017. REUTERS/Toru Hanai - RC1D49AEC4B0

Japan’s fifth-largest automaker reported an operating profit of 36.6 billion yen ($321.22 million) for the July-September period, up from 35.9 billion yen a year earlier but lower than an average forecast of 41.4 billion yen from nine analysts polled by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Mazda kept its forecast unchanged for full-year operating profit to rise 19 percent to 150.0 billion yen. Its forecast is based on an assumption that the U.S. dollar will trade around 110 yen JPY= through March, weaker than a previous forecast for 108 yen.

The maker of the Mazda 3 sedan and the popular CX-5 SUV reported first-half U.S. sales of 151,000 vehicles, a 5 percent slide from last year in its biggest market, which accounts for around 20 percent of its global sales.

Mazda has been struggling to sell sedan models in its key market given an ongoing preference for larger SUVs and trucks. As a result, it lowered its full-year U.S. unit sales forecast by nearly 5 percent to 312,000 vehicles.

Despite tepid sales in North America, sales in China rose 12 percent, while domestic sales rose 4 percent. Mazda now expects to sell 292,000 vehicles in China this year, up from a previous forecast for 282,000.

Reporting by Naomi Tajitsu; Editing by Himani Sarkar and Christopher Cushing

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