April 29, 2014 6:08 am JST

Fuji Heavy, Suzuki on track to solid fiscal 2014 earnings

TOKYO -- Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. and Suzuki Motor Corp., both midtier Japanese carmakers, are expected to enjoy another year of robust earnings in fiscal 2014, helped by their focus on strong suits such as SUVs.

     Subaru maker Fuji Heavy is expected to see group operating profit climb 6% to around 340 billion yen ($3.3 billion) for the year through March 2015, spurred by higher new-car sales in Japan and the U.S. That would make fiscal 2014 its third straight year of record profits. 

     Fuji Heavy plans to ramp up production capacity at a Gumma Prefecture facility and roll out a new model of its Levorg wagon in Japan. In North America, the company aims to boost new-car sales volume with the first completely redesigned version of its popular Legacy sedan in five years.

     The automaker aims to absorb the increase in research and development and advertising expenses with higher sales.

     Fuji Heavy fared well in fiscal 2013, with operating profit apparently leaping 170% to around 320 billion yen. The company saw brisk sales of offerings such as its Forester SUV in Japan and the U.S., while the softer Japanese currency boosted profit by more than 160 billion yen.

     Suzuki, meanwhile, appears on track to secure a fiscal 2014 profit on par with last year's record, thanks in part to cost reductions. Profit will be driven by the Hustler mini-SUV, which has amassed orders since going on sale at the beginning of the year. Overseas, Suzuki's Indian business is expected to remain firm.

     In fiscal 2013, Suzuki likely saw operating profit rise 30% to just under 190 billion yen, setting a record for the first time in six years. In addition to the lift from the weaker yen, the carmaker seems to have benefited from the rush to buy minicars ahead of the April 1 consumption tax hike.