Honda: More Sales, Double Profits in 2012

Honda (NYSE:HMC) got a double helping of positivity Friday after announcing strong fourth-quarter earnings and sunny forecasts for the full fiscal year.

The company announced that earnings for its fourth quarter, which ended in March, jumped 61% compared to the same period in 2011, rising to 71.5 billion yen ($882.7 million) from 44.5 billion yen a year earlier.

Improving North American sales boosted fourth-quarter sales by 8.7%, up to $29.7 billion. Motorcycle sales hit a quarterly record of 3.5 million, an 18% increase from last year.

Honda’s fiscal 2011 profits fell 60% to 211.4 billion yen. However, earnings for fiscal 2012 are forecast to double from last year — as Honda struggled with supply disruptions resulting from natural disasters in Japan and Thailand — and could reach 470 billion yen.

The company also predicts record worldwide vehicle sales of 4.3 million vehicles for fiscal 2012, compared to just 3.1 million sold last year.

Honda shares rose by less than 2% in Friday afternoon trading.

U.S. auto sales rose during the first three months of the year, with major auto manufacturers like General Motors (NYSE:GM) and Ford (NYSE:F) reporting improved sales. Chrysler released first-quarter results showing strong growth earlier this week.

Other Japanese automakers, including Toyota (NYSE:TM) and Nissan (PINK:NSANY), release quarterly results next month and are expected to show similar gains.

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