Nissan posts first loss under Ghosn

TOKYO: Nissan Motor Co., Japan's number three automaker, announced Tuesday its first annual loss in almost a decade and said it expected to stay in the red this year because of slumping sales.

Nissan, which is 44 percent owned by France's Renault, logged a net loss of 233.7 billion yen (2.4 billion dollars) in the year to March, against a year-earlier profit of 482.3 billion yen.

It is the automaker's first loss since the fiscal year 1999 when chief executive Carlos Ghosn was parachuted in by Renault to rescue the company from the brink of bankruptcy.

Nissan's annual sales fell 9.5 percent to 3.41 million vehicles in the last business year to March

It posted an operating loss of 137.9 billion yen, against a year-earlier profit of 790.8 billion yen, as revenue fell 22 percent to 8.44 trillion yen.

"The global economic recession and financial crisis continue, but we are beginning to see some signs of improved access to credit, the impact of government stimulus packages and a gradual return in consumer confidence," Ghosn said.

"We remain cautious about the economic environment and fully focused on our company's recovery efforts," he said.

Nissan expects a net loss of 170 billion yen for the current business year to March.

"We are preparing ourselves to be back to profit, in the worst case, by 2010," said Ghosn, who also heads Renault.

"2009 will be another challenging year. Our priorities will be preserving cash, improving our profitability and pursuing deeper synergies within the Renault-Nissan Alliance," he added.

In February Nissan announced 20,000 job cuts to cope with the crisis.