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The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: Nissan Motor, Volkswagen, Daimler, Toyota Motor and Honda Motor

June 1, 2012

CHICAGO, June 1, 2012 /PRNewswire/ — Zacks.com announces the list of stocks featured in the Analyst Blog. Every day the Zacks Equity Research analysts discuss the latest news and events impacting stocks and the financial markets. Stocks recently featured in the blog include Nissan Motor Co. (OTC:NSANY), Volkswagen AG‘s (OTC:VLKAY), Daimler AG’s (OTC:DDAIF), Toyota Motor Corp. (NYSE:TM) and Honda Motor Co. (NYSE:HMC)

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Here are highlights from Thursday’s Analyst Blog:

Nissan Focuses on Infiniti in China

Nissan Motor Co. (OTC:NSANY) plans to produce two new Infiniti car models in China from 2014 in order to catch up with the leading automakers in the market including Volkswagen AG‘s (OTC:VLKAY) Audi, Daimler AG’s (OTC:DDAIF) Mercedes Benz and BMW AG.

The company will manufacture the cars at a plant located in Xiangyang city in central China and valued at 2 billion yuan ($315 million). The plant will have an initial capacity of 130,000 vehicles per year, which will be enhanced to 250,000 vehicles later.

Nissan sells imported Infiniti cars in China since 2007. In the last fiscal year, the automaker sold about 19,000 units of the luxury car in China. However, this is a fraction of more than 300,000 cars sold by Audi in 2011.

Recently, Nissan opened its new global headquarters of Infiniti in Hong Kong in order to strengthen the brand’s foothold in China. President and CEO Carlos Ghosn stated that it plans to occupy 10% of the luxury car market in China from 3% currently.

Ghosn also reiterated the company’s target to increase Infiniti sales to 500,000 vehicles by 2016 from 145,000 vehicles in 2011 and expand into 70 markets from 45 markets currently. In this year, the company plans to launch the brand in Australia, Chile, Mexico, South Africa and Hong Kong.

Nissan is not the only automaker which intends to catch up with rivals in the emerging markets. Recently, Toyota Motor Corp. (NYSE:TM) announced plans to introduce eight compact car models in the emerging markets including Brazil, China, India and Indonesia by 2015 for the same reason.

Toyota aims to boost its sales in the emerging markets to 50% of global sales from 45% in 2011 and 18.6% in 2000. This is a part of the company’s target to achieve annual sales of more than 1 million vehicles by 2015 in over 100 countries.

Honda Motor Co. (NYSE:HMC) will also launch its Brio small car in Indonesia this year as a part of its growth strategy in the emerging markets. So far, the company has been selling the brand in India and Thailand.

Last month, China’s auto sector rejuvenated by posting a 5% growth in sales to 1.62 million vehicles after recording a slack first quarter of the year. However, sales in the first four months of the year slid 1.3% to 6.4 million vehicles owing to tighter credit policies and slower economic growth.

Nissan, a Zacks #2 Rank (Buy) stock, posted a 7% increase in profits to ¥341.43 billion ($4.32 billion) or ¥81.67 ($1.03) per share in fiscal 2011 ended March 31, 2012 compared with ¥319.22 billion or ¥76.44 in the prior fiscal year. However, the EPS was lower than the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $1.88.

Sales in the quarter appreciated 7% to ¥9.41 trillion ($118.95 billion) in the year. Operating profit inched up 2% to ¥545.84 billion ($6.90 billion) from ¥537.47 billion in fiscal 2010.

The improvement in revenues and profits was attributable to strong demand for the company’s vehicles, frequent product launches during the year and market expansion programs. The company believes investments in manufacturing capacity expansion, particularly in China, North America, Brazil and Russia, will enhance sales volume of the company.

The company released five new models during the year, including Tiida in China, Lafesta Highway Star in Japan, front-drive and rear-drive versions of the NV400 commercial van in Europe and the Infiniti JX in the U.S.

Nissan’s sales in its largest market, China, improved 22% to 1.25 million units. Meanwhile, its sales rose 12% to 1.08 million units in the U.S., 17.5% to 713,000 units across Europe (including Russia), 9% to 655,000 units in Japan and 16% to 826,000 units in Other markets.

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Source: PR Newswire