April 28, 2017 / 6:28 AM / 3 months ago

Mazda expects operating profit to jump by nearly a fifth this FY

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TOKYO, April 28 (Reuters) - Mazda Motor Corp forecast on Friday a 19 percent jump in operating profit for the current financial year as the Japanese automaker expects higher sales volumes, particularly in North America, to help it recover from last year's profit slump.

Japan's No. 5 automaker said it sees operating profit coming in at 150 billion yen ($1.35 billion) in the year to March, short of an average forecast for 180.4 billion yen from 19 analysts polled by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Mazda posted a 45 percent fall in operating profit to 125.69 billion yen in the year just ended, hit by a slump in sedan sales in Japan and North America, its biggest market where demand has been booming for SUVs and pickup trucks.

But it expects global sales to rise 2.6 percent in the year to March to 1.6 million vehicles, partly boosted by the launch of its CX-5 compact SUV model earlier this year. It expects the strongest sales growth in North America, of 5.9 percent.

Mazda, which has a big exposure to currency swings due to its heavy reliance on exports, said currencies will have zero impact on its operating profit this year. It is assuming an average dollar rate of 108 yen, unchanged from last year, and euro of 118 yen, versus 119 yen last year. ($1 = 111.1600 yen) (Reporting by Naomi Tajitsu; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)

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