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Mitsubishi Motors Profit Rises 64% on New Models

Mitsubishi Motors reported on Tuesday a 64 percent rise in quarterly operating profit thanks to sales contributions from the new Lancer and Outlander models, and it kept its forecasts unchanged.

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April-June operating profit was 9.86 billion yen ($91.76 million), up from 6 billion yen a year ago. Net profit was 10.30 billion yen, reversing a loss of 8.23 billion yen a year earlier.

For the business year to March 2009, the Tokyo-based carmaker still expects operating profit to fall 45 percent to 60 billion yen after a record year, mainly hit by a sharp drop in the dollar.

With demand turning further south in the United States, Mitsubishi Motors's struggles in filling up production capacity at its Illinois factory have intensified, while prospects are improving in Europe through new project-based ties with France's PSA Peugeot Citroen, including for a joint car plant in Russia and an electric car partnership.

Sales have been particularly robust in Russia and Ukraine, which more than made up for a slide in Western European demand.

"Sales in mature markets are extremely weak but we will aim to meet our sales and profit forecasts for the year," Shuichi Aoto, Mitsubishi Motors' director in charge of corporate planning, told a news conference.

Earlier, Daihatsu Motor, the minivehicle unit of Toyota Motor, reported an 18 percent rise in first-quarter operating profit to 18.46 billion yen thanks to higher revenues both at home and abroad. Daihatsu, which has no exposure to North America, escaped the impact of a falling dollar unlike most of its domestic rivals.

Daihatsu kept its annual operating profit forecast of 61 billion yen, down 6.4 percent from last year, saying the outlook for the global auto industry was uncertain.

Shares of Mitsubishi Motors have fallen 3.7 percent in the year to date, better than Tokyo's transport sub-index, which has lost 17 percent. Daihatsu is up 22 percent.

After the results, Mitsubishi Motors was trading down 2.2 percent at 178 yen and Daihatsu lost 3.4 percent to 1,234 yen in the afternoon session in Asia.