Honda Motor's Quarterly Profit Jumps but Lags Expectations

Honda Motor reported a near 9% rise in quarterly net profit as brisk sales in Europe and a weak yen offset a dip in U.S. sales -- where Honda could not keep up with demand -- and raised its forecast for the full year.

October-December net profit at Japan's No.2 car maker rose to 144.83 billion yen ($1.19 billion), but lagged an average estimate for 153.6 billion yen in a survey of five brokers by Reuters Estimates. Operating profit was up 5.2% to 205.11 billion yen, below market estimates for 215 billion yen.

Honda increased its full-year net profit forecast to 560 billion yen ($4.61 billion) from a previous 555 billion yen. Market forecasts are for 567 billion yen, according to Reuters Estimates. It kept its full-year operating profit forecast unchanged at 820 billion yen.

The world's second-most valuable carmaker with a market worth of $72 billion, is riding demand for its popular small and fuel-efficient cars amid high energy prices -- so much so that its supply line fell short in the U.S. in recent quarters.

Like other Asian car makers, Honda is winning global buyers, and record profits, with solid products such as its CR-V crossover and Fit subcompact, while big U.S. rivals such as Ford Motor and General Motors are losing customers and burning cash as they restructure in North
America.

Domestic rival Toyota Motor is expected to post a double-digit rise in third-quarter operating profit when it reports next Tuesday. Nissan Motor reports this Thursday. Honda shares gained 18% in October-December, just beating the Tokyo transport sector subindex.