Japanese Nissan returns to profit despite chip shortage

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Japanese automaker Nissan returned to profitability for the first time in three fiscal years, despite challenges including pandemic-caused supply shortages and soaring costs

TOKYO — Japanese automaker Nissan returned to profitability last fiscal year for the first time in three years, despite challenges including pandemic-caused supply shortages and soaring costs.

Nissan Motor Co. on Thursday reported net profit of 215.5 billion yen ($1.7 billion) for the fiscal year through March, a reversal from the 448.7 billion yen loss posted the ‘Previous exercice.

Annual sales increased 7% to 8.4 trillion yen ($65 billion).

In the January-March quarter, Nissan posted a profit of 14.2 billion yen ($110 million). It posted a loss of 81 billion yen in the same period a year earlier.

Nissan chief executive Makoto Uchida said semiconductor supply shortages will remain a challenge in the coming months.

But Uchida said he was confident he could “ensure that Nissan remains a truly healthy and resilient company that, in any business environment, can be financially stable and profitable.”

Nissan, allied with Renault SA of France, forecast a profit of 150 billion yen ($1.2 billion) for the fiscal year to March 2023.

Nissan expects to sell 4 million vehicles worldwide, up 3% from nearly 3.9 million vehicles sold the previous year, with healthier sales in Japan and North America. The company’s sales in China would be little changed but they would decline in Europe, since Nissan’s operations in Russia and Ukraine have been suspended.

The company’s chief operating officer, Ashwani Gupta, said Nissan had streamlined its product lineup to focus on what he called “base models” to increase profitability.

“We are transforming,” he said.

The Yokohama-based maker of the Leaf electric car, Infiniti luxury models and March subcompact is moving to the next level of growth, Gupta said.

Nissan’s reputation was tarnished by a high-profile scandal of its former star executive Carlos Ghosn, who was arrested for financial misconduct in 2018. He skipped bail and fled Japan. He is now in Lebanon, the nation of his ancestors.

Ghosn, who led Nissan for two decades, insisted on his innocence, saying he was the victim of an internal coup led by misguided officials.

Nissan is banking on the global shift to electric vehicles to tackle climate change, as it was an early leader in electric vehicles, an initiative launched by Ghosn.

It has the Ariya electric sport utility vehicle this year and a smaller EV model. But it faces intensifying competition as the industry rushes into electric vehicles, including powerhouse players like Tesla.

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Yuri Kageyama is on Twitter https://twitter.com/yurikageyama

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