Mazda of Japan has announced a 94 per cent increase in its first half operating profit to R1,83 billion and confirmed that the company is on track to meet its full year financial targets.

Mazda of Japan has announced a 94 per cent increase in its first half operating profit to R1,83 billion and confirmed that the company is on track to meet its full year financial targets.

Compared with the same period last year, consolidated revenue increased four per cent to R73 billion and net income doubled to R72 million.

Mazda said its improved first half profitability was because of stronger sales, mostly in Europe, China and Australia, favourable exchange rates and continued efforts to reduce cost within the company.

Mazda president and CEO Hisakazu Imaki said, " The road ahead, though, is not getting easier, so I remain cautious. We must stay focused and achieve our cost reduction and sales targets."

Consolidated revenue for the first half of this year was R70 billion, an increase of R3,2 billion, from last year. The operating profit increased by R868 million to R1,7 billion, while net income was R707 million, a R357 million increase over the same period last year.

Mazda's full-year targets for profits and cash flow remain unchanged - sales are projected to be up six per cent and operating profit up by 28 per cent. These results will mark Mazda's third consecutive fiscal year of increased revenue and profit and the company's best performance in a decade.

However the company expects the remainder of 2003 to continue to be challenging with industry demand predicted to decline in Japan, North America and Europe. Its new generation products are expected to continue to drive increased sales in the key markets.

European sales should remain strong, while China and Australia should continue to set sales records. Retail sales in Japan and the US should be up slightly from last year's levels.