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Mazda says quarterly profit jumped 29 per cent

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Mazda, a rare bright spot in the Ford group, reported a 29 per cent jump in profit for the second fiscal quarter Friday on brisk demand for its small cars in the U.S. and other overseas markets.

Mazda Motor Corp. said its July-September profit rose to 26.6 billion yen (US$232.1 million) from 20.6 billion yen the same period the previous year.

Quarterly sales jumped seven per cent to 841.9 billion yen ($7.35 billion) from 787.1 billion yen.

The Mazda3 subcompact and CX-7 sport-utility vehicle led vehicle growth in North America, where the company sold 213,000 vehicles in the fiscal first-half through September, up seven per cent from the previous year.

Japan's No. 5 automaker sold 659,000 vehicles around the world in the first half, up one per cent on year, as it rolled out new models.

``With profits across the board increasing for the first half of fiscal year 2007, Mazda's performance has exceeded our initial forecasts,'' Mazda president Hisakazu Imaki said in a statement.

But Mazda said it was being cautious about the rest of the year because of the U.S. subprime mortgage crunch, rising global oil prices and shifts in currency rates.

Mazda is 33.4 per cent owned by Ford Motor Co. Although Ford reported a profit for the latest quarter, it still expects big losses for the next two quarters and no return to full-year profitability until 2009.

Mazda, which also makes the Miata convertible and RX-8 sports car, kept unchanged its full year forecast through March 2008 for 85 billion yen ($741.7 million) profit, up 15 per cent from the previous year, on 3.320 trillion yen ($28.97 billion) sales, up 2 per cent from fiscal 2006.

Mazda is expecting to sell 1.36 million vehicles for the full fiscal 2007, up 4 per cent from the previous year.

For the fiscal first-half, Mazda reported profit surged 6.8 per cent to 29.05 billion yen ($253.5 million) from 27.21 billion yen for the same six months a year earlier. First-half sales climbed 8.9 per cent to 1.656 trillion yen ($14.45 billion) from 1.521 trillion yen.

Although sales were shrank in Japan, a stagnant auto market, Mazda's market share edged up 0.2 percentage points on year to five per cent, the Hiroshima-based manufacturer said.

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Mazda says quarterly profit jumped 29 per cent
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