Nissan’s quarterly profit falls amid computer chip crunch

TOKYO (AP) — Nissan’s profit fell 68% in the last quarter as a shortage of computer chips hindered the Japanese automaker’s ability to deliver vehicles to its customers.

Nissan Motor Co. reported Wednesday that its profit was 17.4 billion yen ($119 million) in the July-September, down from 54 billion yen the same period a year earlier. Quarterly sales jumped to 2.5 trillion yen ($17 billion) from 1.9 trillion yen a year ago.

The company’s chief executive, Makoto Uchida, acknowledged the company faces various headwinds, including a chips supply crunch that has slammed the global auto industry amid lockdowns and other restrictions related to the pandemic.

“But I can say our operations are definitely improving,” he told reporters.

Officials apologized to all those who had to wait for their Nissan cars to be delivered because of the semiconductor shortage.

On the plus side, a weak yen has helped Japanese exporters, including Nissan, by boosting the value of overseas earnings when translated into yen.

But Uchida said a volatile exchange rate was more of a risk because of Nissan’s widespread global operations. The U.S. dollar, at about 110 yen a year ago, is now trading at nearly 150 yen.

“We find a stable currency as most desirable,” said Uchida.

The rising cost of raw materials, as inflation pressures spread around the world, is another challenge, according to Nissan, based in the port city of Yokohama.

Uchida and other company officials declined comment on Nissan’s talks with alliance partner Renault SA of France. He said any decision on reshaping the alliance will be announced.

Nissan’s brand power has been tarnished by a scandal centered around its former chairman, Carlos Ghosn, who was sent in by Renault to lead Nissan for more than two decades.

Ghosn was arrested on various financial misconduct charges in 2018, including under-reporting his compensation. He jumped bail and fled in late 2019 to Lebanon, which has no extradition treaty with Japan. He says he is innocent.

Nissan lowered its vehicle sales outlook for the fiscal year through March to 3.7 million vehicles from an earlier projected 4 million vehicles. Nissan sold 3.8 million vehicles in the fiscal year that ended in March.

Nissan raised its annual profit forecast to 155 billion yen ($1.1 billion) from an earlier 150 billion yen ($1 billion). Nissan, which makes the Z sportscar and X-Trail sport utility vehicles, earned 215 billion yen in the last fiscal year.

Nissan, which also makes the Leaf electric car, said it remains bullish about electrification. It believes that’s gaining momentum as environmental concerns spread among consumers.

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Yuri Kageyama is on Twitter https://twitter.com/yurikageyama

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