TOKYO, May 14 (Xinhua) -- Nissan Motor Co. said Tuesday its net profit for the fiscal year through March dropped to the lowest in nine years owing to sluggish sales in the United States and compounded by an ongoing scandal involving its ousted Chairman Carlos Ghosn.
According to the Yokohama-based automaker, its net profit for the fiscal year through March fell to 319.14 billion yen (2.91 billion U.S. dollars), with its net profit down 57.3 percent from a year earlier and operating profit slumping 44.6 percent to 318.22 billion yen (2.90 billion U.S. dollars).
The figures were based on sales of 1.57 trillion yen (14.32 billion U.S. dollars), which is a 3.2 percent decline from a year earlier, Nissan said.
Nissan also announced that for the current fiscal year through March 2020, it expects its net profit to decline to 170 billion yen (1.55 billion U.S. dollars), a drop of 46.7 percent, with an increase in investment costs also forecast to dent its operating profit.
Japan's second largest automaker said that owing to rising investment costs to cover developmental advancements, its operating profit is expected to fall 27.7 percent to 230 billion yen (2.09 billion U.S. dollars), while sales are forecast to edge 2.4 percent lower to 11.30 trillion yen (103.07 billion U.S. dollars).
The automaker highlighted that while sales in its Chinese market are likely to see an uptick, those in North America are likely to remain pressured, with CEO Hiroto Saikawa telling a press briefing that the firm plans to enhance its brand value in the United States.
"The recovery of U.S. operations is one of our major reforms going ahead. We hope to achieve steady growth by enhancing the value of our brand," Saikawa was quoted as saying.
Nissan's global vehicle sales dropped 4.4 percent to 5.52 million units, in the previous fiscal year ended March, with sales in the U.S. down 9.3 percent and those in Europe falling 14.9 percent, it said.
Sales in China, conversely, rose by 2.9 percent with 1.56 million vehicles sold, said the automaker.
In the fiscal year through March 2023, Nissan slashed its sales target from 16.5 trillion yen (150.52 billion U.S. dollars) to 14.5 trillion yen (132.28 billion U.S. dollars) with an aim to secure a 6 percent profit margin.
"We will try to achieve more sustainable growth rather than chasing numbers as was the case under the former chairman," Saikawa said, with reference to Ghosn, who was arrested nearly six months ago on charges of financial misconduct and had set a far more aggressive sales target for Nissan.