Nissan eyes bigger profits
Nissan Motor Co’s profit in the January-to-March period more than doubled to ￥75.3 billion (US$941 million) as the Japanese automaker achieved record sales, despite production disruptions from last year’s tsunami. Nissan annual global sales reached a record 4.85 million vehicles, showing a remarkably quick recovery from the earthquake that ravaged much of northeastern Japan in March last year, the Yokohama-based manufacturer said yesterday. Nissan continues to be bullish — expecting to sell 5.35 million vehicles this fiscal year, up 10 percent for another record. It also raised its forecasts for the fiscal year through March 2013 to ￥400 billion in profit, up from its earlier forecast of ￥290 billion.
IAG losses more than double
International Airlines Group (IAG), formed by the merger of British Airways and Iberia, said its first quarter losses more than doubled as higher fuel costs and weakness in Spain undermined strength in premium long-haul travel out of London. The company reported an operating loss of 249 million euros (US$322.7 million) before exceptional items in the traditionally weak first quarter of the year, up from a 102 million euros loss the previous year. Analysts had expected a figure of between 230 million and 250 million euros, according to the company. Revenue for the quarter rose 7.8 percent versus a year earlier to 3.9 billion euros.
Credit Agricole disappoints
Credit Agricole SA, one of the biggest banks in Europe by capitalization, reported a 75 percent drop in first quarter net profit yesterday, hit by its exposure to the Greek debt crisis. The bank reported a net profit for the first quarter of 252 million euros. The result was far lower than analyst estimates, who had forecast quarterly earnings of 482 million euros, according to a survey by Bloomberg. The firm said total losses on Greece were 940 million euros, including costs linked to the Greek sovereign debt swap agreed in March and provisions related to its majority stake in Athens bank Emporiki.
Microsoft revamps Bing
Microsoft on Thursday said that it is weaving insights from people’s Facebook friends into Bing results as part of the biggest revamp of the search engine since its launch three years ago. A new version of Bing is being rolled out in the weeks ahead and it is to be widely available in the US early next month. The new version features a “social sidebar” that lists Facebook friends who may know something about a query topic, Microsoft said. Bing improvements also include faster, more relevant results and cleaner pages that include “snapshots” that tightly summarize pertinent information, Microsoft added.
Industrial output weaker
Industrial output in March fell 3.5 percent from a year ago, the government said yesterday, worse than expected on weak manufacturing and investment. Manufacturing activity fell 4.4 percent and capital goods production — a sign of crucial investment activity — plunged by 21 percent, burying hopes of a quick recovery for Asia’s third-largest economy. For the year ending in March, industrial output grew 2.8 percent, sharply lower than 8.2 percent during the prior fiscal year. The weak growth complicates matters for India’s central bank, which faces enormous political pressure to stoke growth, despite persistent inflation and soaring deficits.