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Mitsubishi Motors reports smaller loss for April June quarter

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TOKYO (AP) _ Scandal-marred Mitsubishi Motors said Monday losses for the April-June quarter shrank to 8.23 billion yen, or US$69.6 million, from the same period last year, boosted by growing sales in North America, Europe and Asia.

The Japanese automaker, which had 15.11 billion yen loss a year ago, has been struggling to reverse plunging sales after acknowledging in 2000 it had been covering auto defects for more than two decades, and announced a string of recalls.

The weak yen, and better model mix contributed to better earnings for the latest quarter, the automaker said in a statement.

Sales climbed 30.4 per cent to 630.79 billion yen, or US$5.33 million, from 483.88 billion yen the same period a year earlier.

In a sign that the worst may be behind it, Mitsubishi Motors Corp. last fiscal year turned a profit year for the first time in four years.

The manufacturer, part of the broader Mitsubishi group that also makes aircraft, cell phones and robots, kept unchanged its forecasts that it will earn 20 billion yen, or US$169 million, on 2.43 trillion yen, or US$20.5 billion, sales for the fiscal year ending March 2008.

Mitsubishi's global retail vehicle sales jumped 14 per cent to 334,000 vehicles for April-June, from 293,000 sold the same period in fiscal 2006.

A series of scandals have badly tarnished Mitsubishi Motors brand image, especially in Japan.

In 2000, it acknowledged it had been covering up auto defects for more than two decades, and announced a string of recalls. In 2004, however, it revealed it had failed to divulge all its problems in 2000 and had more concealed defects.

The company's sales had been lacklustre even before those scandals, and has fallen behind powerful domestic rivals like Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co.

Tokyo-based Mitsubishi suffered earlier scandals since the mid-1990s, including a sexual harassment lawsuit in the United States and arrests of executives on criminal charges in Japan for paying off racketeers tied to gangsters.

Mitsubishi Motors shares gained 2.2 per cent to 184 yen, US$1.55, after earnings were released.

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Mitsubishi Motors reports smaller loss for April June quarter
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