Suzuki profit slumps on virus hit

TOKYO — Suzuki Motor on Thursday forecast operating profit to fall by a quarter to 160 billion yen ($1.53 billion) in the year to March 31 after profit in its latest quarter slumped.

Suzuki posted a 73.6 billion yen operating profit in the three months ended Sept 30, compared with a profit of 55.9 billion yen a year earlier, according to Reuters’ calculations.

The automaker’s vehicle sales, including in its key Indian market, shrank amid the coronavirus pandemic.

India accounts for just over half of Suzuki’s global car sales. Through its majority stake in Maruti Suzuki India, the company accounts for about one in every two cars sold in the country.

Sales there and in other markets, including Japan, Indonesia and Europe have suffered as people stay away from dealerships.

Suzuki’s Indian car sales in the first half of the year fell 36 percent to 432,000 vehicles.

“We don’t know what will happen with the coronavirus in India or what measures the government will implement, so that makes the market difficult to predict,” Suzuki’s president, Toshihiro Suzuki, said in a conference call.

Last business year, Maruti Suzuki paid Suzuki 38.2 billion rupees in royalties, or about 5 percent of its revenue, according to its annual report.

For the full business year, Suzuki expects to sell 2.38 million cars worldwide, 17 percent fewer than the previous twelve months.

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