Automaker Nissan Makes A Profit

As you watch the Detroit automakers die a slow, painful and public death, try to bear in mind one thing — selling cars can still be profitable. Yes, the market is really tough right now, as consumer weakness is compounded by the difficulty of obtaining credit. But we’re not looking at the newspaper industry, companies whose core cost structure almost makes them obsolete.

The WSJ says Nissan added to the “gloomy outlook” with its latest report, but the fact is that they made money, and actually more than expected, which isn’t all that gloomy:

Nissan, Japan’s third biggest car by sales volume, posted net profit of ¥73.5 billion ($746.7 million) for the quarter ended Sept. 30, down from ¥120.1 billion a year earlier. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters had expected, on average, earnings of ¥66.1 billion.

“The global financial and economic crisis has had a profound effect on every area of our industry, with the grip on credit and declining consumer confidence being the most damaging factors,” Nissan President and Chief Executive Carlos Ghosn said in a press release.

Sales fell 3.7% to ¥2.522 trillion from Y2.618 trillion. Operating profit declined 49% to ¥111.7 billion from ¥218.7 billion.

Nissan, which is 44%-owned by France’s Renault SA, sold 966,000 vehicles world-wide — up 2.7% from a year earlier. Sales in the U.S. fell 5.1% to 263,000 units, while Europe saw sales grow 1.3% to 149,000 units.

And who says there’s no credit anymore? Nissan is the latest to bring back good ol’ fashioned 0% financing on certain models in the US.

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