* MMC sees 70 bln yen op. profit in 17/18 vs 5.1 bln yen
* Eyes 11 pct rise in car sales, recovering from mileage
* CEO: Focussed on recovery, will decide future when
(Adds CEO comment)
By Naomi Tajitsu
TOKYO, May 9 Japan's Mitsubishi Motors Corp
on Tuesday forecast a near 14-fold rise in operating
profit this year, as higher sales and cost savings from its
alliance with Nissan Motor Co helps it draw a line
under last year's mileage cheating scandal.
Mitsubishi Motors CEO Osamu Masuko said he was committed to
leading the firm through its recovery this year, having faced
pressure from some shareholders to step down for the scandal.
"I will focus all of my energy on leading the company
through the 2017 financial year," Masuko said at a results
briefing, adding that he would make any decision about his
future at the company "as appropriate".
Japan's sixth-largest carmaker admitted last year to
overstating the fuel economy on some of its models sold in
Japan, a scandal that led Nissan to take a controlling stake in
Since then, the automaker has reorganised its engineering
division and has improved testing processes and compliance
procedures to prevent a recurrence.
Mitsubishi Motors expects an operating profit of 70 billion
yen ($617.07 million) in the year to March, up significantly
from 5.1 billion yen the previous year.
But the outlook was below estimates for around 89 billion
yen from 11 analysts polled by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Mitsubishi Motors anticipates a net profit of 68.0 billion
yen in the year to March. That's a turnaround from a net loss of
198.5 billion yen last year, when the automaker was hit by
falling domestic sales and compensation costs.
It forecast global vehicle sales to hit 1.03 million
vehicles this year, up 11 percent from last year. It hopes to
boost sales to 1.25 million in the 2019 financial year.
Much of this year's growth will be driven by a 23 percent
jump in sales expected in Asia, the automaker's largest market,
where it sells around one-third of its global production.
Mitsubishi Motors has been expanding its market share in the
region, as it focuses on selling SUVs and pick-up trucks to
households with rising incomes in Thailand, Indonesia, the
Philippines and other countries.
The automaker is assuming an average U.S. dollar rate of 105
yen, anticipating the yen will strengthen from its trading level
against the U.S. currency of around 113 yen on Tuesday.
($1 = 113.4400 yen)
(Reporting by Naomi Tajitsu; Editing by Randy Fabi)