TOKYO — Japan’s Mazda Motor said Thursday it suffered a US$33 million loss for the three months to December due to an end to government incentives and the impact of a strong yen. Japan’s fifth biggest car maker by sales incurred 2.7 billion yen (US$33 million) in group net loss for the quarter, reversing a net profit of 4.4 billion yen in the same quarter a year earlier. “Demand decreased significantly in the third quarter of the fiscal year due to a backlash from the expiration of the subsidy scheme,” the Hiroshima-based automaker said in a statement. “Also, the trend of a strong yen continued.” Japanese exporters have had to work to stay competitive as the strong yen, which hit a 15-year high against the dollar in November, makes their products more expensive overseas and erodes repatriated earnings.
Japan’s automakers have also faced a slide in demand at home since government subsidies for purchases of environmentally friendly vehicles expired in September last year.
Mazda’s loss defied the average forecast for a 1.76 billion yen profit based on a survey of seven analysts by the Nikkei business daily. Operating profit plunged to 1.1 billion yen in the period from 11.1 billion yen a year earlier, while sales remained nearly flat at 560 billion yen. However, it left its full-year earnings forecast unchanged, bracing for a net profit of six billion yen, an operating profit of 25 billion yen on sales of 2.3 trillion yen for the year to March. For the nine months to December, Mazda secured a net profit of 2.8 billion yen, compared with the net loss of 16.4 billion yen a year before. Sales rose 11 percent to 1.7 trillion yen.