Electric and Autonomous Cars Boost Nissan

05/29/2017 2:50 am EST

Focus: INDUSTRIALS

David Fried

Editor, The Buyback Letter

Japanese automaker Nissan Motor Co. (NSANY) manufactures and sells vehicles under the Nissan, Infiniti, and Datsun brands worldwide, notes buyback expert David Fried, editor of The Buyback Letter.

It is based in Yokohama, Japan, manufactures vehicles in 20 countries and areas around the world, and offers products and services in more than 160 countries. It has 152,000 employees.

Their fiscal year ended in March, and profit rose by 27% to 663.5 billion yen ($5.8 billion), as strong sales in the U.S., China and Europe and the sale of its stake in a parts maker offset damage from the strong yen, the company reported.

Nissan, which did not break down quarterly numbers, said it sold 5.63 million vehicles globally in the last fiscal year. It expects sales to grow to 5.83 million vehicles in the fiscal year through March 2018.

Nissan's U.S. sales rose 4% on-year on good demand for the Rogue and Altima sedan. Sales in China rose 8%, while sales in Europe excluding Russia rose 7% percent for Nissan, which is allied with Renault SA of France.

Their premium brand Infiniti sold a total of 17,578 vehicles in April, an increase of 12% from a year earlier, which increased the brand's worldwide sales in the first four months of this year to 84,947 vehicles, up 16%.

In the U.S., Infiniti sold 54,358 vehicles during January-April, up 26% from a year earlier. U.S. sales in April were 10,797 vehicles, up 3% from a year earlier.

China sales in April totaled 3,415 vehicles, up 105% from the same month a year ago. Its volume in China during the first four months of this year was up 19% percent from a year earlier, to 13,456 vehicles.

Nissan has been among the most aggressive in working on autonomous driving and mobility connectivity technologies, with the Leaf electric car and Infiniti luxury models.

The company has announced an ambitious schedule for developing autonomous-vehicle technology. It has already introduced its ProPilot single-lane self-drive system for expressways on its Serena minivan, which is extremely popular in Asia.

Sales of the new version are up 34% compared to the previous generation, to 65,000 minivans, 56% of them with the system. The company now plans to install ProPilot in QX50 SUVs and its electric Leaf models, as well as the Qashqai SUV for the European market.

Next year should see it run out multi-lane self-driving technology, involving lane changes, with the biggest test -­- urban-road self-drive cars -- due for 2020.

Nissan's bottom line is always at the mercy of the exchange rate. A strong yen erodes the value of overseas earnings by Japanese exporters like Nissan. Nissan has repurchased about 6% of its shares in the past 12 months.

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