Honda Returns to Profit Despite Pandemic Damage

Annual sales slipped nearly 12%, but cost cuts helped support its bottom line.

Honda Motor Company logo in Tokyo, May 13, 2021.
Honda Motor Company logo in Tokyo, May 13, 2021.
AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko

TOKYO (AP) — Honda swung into the black in January-March, recording a 213 billion yen ($2 billion) profit despite the lingering impact of the pandemic.

The results, released Friday, marked a reversal from 29.5 billion yen in red ink Honda Motor Co. racked up in the same quarter last year. Quarterly sales rose nearly 5% to 3.6 trillion yen ($33 billion).

Tokyo-based Honda’s profit for the fiscal year that ended in March totaled 657.4 billion yen ($6 billion), up 44% from the previous fiscal year.

Annual sales slipped nearly 12% to 13.2 trillion yen ($121 billion), but cost cuts helped support its bottom line. The results were better than Honda's internal forecasts.

The company said its vehicle sales rose in Asia in the last quarter but fell in the U.S. and Europe. Motorcycle sales also recovered in Asia.

The maker of the CR-V sport utility vehicle, Gold Wing motorcycle and Asimo robot said it’s adjusting to the semiconductor shortage, which is hurting automakers around the world.

“There is still a lot of uncertainty ahead because of the COVID-19 surge,” Honda's chief operating officer, Seiji Kuraishi, told reporters.

He acknowledged some Honda production is being affected by the semiconductor shortage.

As vaccination efforts progress, global auto markets are expected to recover, Kuraishi said.

In Japan, the pandemic has affected workers’ commutes, and some dealers around the world had to shut down, shorten hours or reduce services for as pandemic precautions.

Honda forecast a profit of 590 billion yen ($5.4 billion) for the fiscal year through March 2022, a decline of 10% on-year.

Among Japanese automakers, Toyota Motor Corp. also reported a recovery in January-March, with its profit more than doubling to 777 billion yen ($7 billion).

Nissan Motor Co., whose brand has suffered over a scandal involving its former star executive Carlos Ghosn, is trimming its losses but expects to remain in the red for the fiscal year through March 2022.

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