By Yoko Kubota
YOKOHAMA, Japan -- Nissan Motor's operating profit rose a higher-than-expected 13.4 percent in the April-June quarter on improved sales in the United States and China, its two largest markets, following a change in senior management overseeing U.S. operations.
Nissan (NSANY) said Monday its first-quarter operating profit was 122.6 billion yen ($1.20 billion), exceeding the 109.1 billion yen mean estimate of 12 analysts polled by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
%VIRTUAL-WSSCourseInline-947%It stuck with an annual operating profit forecast of 535 billion yen for the financial year ending in March 2015.
Jose Munoz took over the company's struggling North American operations in January as it aims to boost its U.S. market share to 10 percent from the current 8.6 percent.
Nissan's April-June vehicle sales grew 14.1 percent in the United States to around 350,000 vehicles in the quarter, while globally they rose 6 percent to 1.24 million.
Nissan's average incentive offering per vehicle was $2,323 for April-June, according to data from TrueCar, the highest among Japanese carmakers, although it has been declining over the past few months.
"Nissan is well placed to deliver on its outlook given our continued offensive along with measures to enhance competitiveness, build market share and the ongoing benefits of our alliance strategy," Nissan Chief Executive Officer Carlos Ghosn said in a statement.
Last financial year, Nissan posted a 4.8 percent operating profit margin, the worst among its Japanese peers, squeezed by the cost of a rapid expansion drive aimed at lifting its global market share.
Nissan's shares ended 0.8 percent higher Monday ahead of the earnings release, compared with a 0.5 percent rise in Tokyo's benchmark Nikkei average. Japan's second-largest automaker is up 13 percent so far this year, outperforming the benchmark's 5 percent drop.
By Yoko Kubota