Nissan slashes full-year forecast as first-half profit falls

Nissan blamed the poor outlook on weak first-half earnings, a strong yen, an uncertain global outlook and the stagnation of the car industry in general. (AP)
Updated 12 November 2019

Nissan slashes full-year forecast as first-half profit falls

  • Full-year sales are now estimated at ¥10.6 trillion, down from a previous forecast of ¥11.3 trillion
  • Nissan blamed the poor outlook on weak first-half earnings, a strong yen, an uncertain global outlook and the stagnation of the car industry in general

YOKOHAMA, Japan: Crisis-hit Japanese automaker Nissan Tuesday slashed its full-year forecast for both sales and profit as it struggles with weak demand in Japan, the US and Europe, as well as fallout from the arrest of former boss Carlos Ghosn.
Nissan downgraded its net profit forecast to ¥110 billion ($1 billion) for the fiscal year to March 2020, compared with an earlier estimate of ¥170 billion.
Full-year sales are now estimated at ¥10.6 trillion, down from a previous forecast of ¥11.3 trillion.
Nissan blamed the poor outlook on weak first-half earnings, a strong yen, an uncertain global outlook and the stagnation of the car industry in general.
Incoming chief financial officer Stephen Ma said: “Sales in China outpaced the market but sales in other key regions including the US, Europe and Japan underperformed in those markets. This resulted in the overall decrease of our market share.”
Net profit for the six months to September plunged 73.5 percent to ¥65.4 billion on sales down 9.6 percent at ¥5.0 trillion.
It was its first earnings announcement since Nissan named Makoto Uchida as new chief executive last month, elevating the insider heading the firm’s China unit as it overhauls its leadership after the Ghosn scandal.
The appointment, to take effect on December 1, came after months of turmoil for the automaker in the wake of the arrest of former chief Ghosn on allegations of financial misconduct.
Former CEO Hiroto Saikawa resigned in September after an investigation prompted by the Ghosn scandal revealed he was among Nissan executives who received excess pay by altering the terms of a share price bonus.
“Nissan’s new management is setting sail in a storm,” said Satoru Takada, auto analyst at TIW, a Tokyo-based research and consulting firm.
“Uchida is expected to show new strategies for Nissan’s survival,” Takada said.
The automaker has cited a global slowdown in the auto sector, but it is also suffering from a lack of innovation on its production line and reputational damage from the Ghosn scandal.
Uchida inherits the harsh cost-cutting measures Saikawa proposed as a way out of the crisis — including reducing dealer incentives and promotions but also cutting global production by 10 percent to 2023 — a measure that means the loss of 12,500 jobs.
“Additional restructuring is possible in the wake of the layoff plan,” Takada said.
Asked about possible fresh job losses, Nissan official Ma said no new announcement would be made until the full new management team is in place on December 1.
Adding to Nissan’s woes is continued tension within the three-way alliance with Mitsubishi Motors and Renault.
Ghosn, who created the alliance, wanted greater integration with France’s Renault, and says his push for that prompted angry Nissan executives to plot against him.
The two firms have made a show of holding the marriage together in the wake of Ghosn’s arrest, but tensions have bubbled to the surface.
Renault holds a 43-percent stake in the Japanese automaker, which in turn controls 15 percent of the French firm but has no voting rights.
“The negative impact of the furor around Ghosn is gradually becoming visible,” Takada said. “The alliance is facing a crucial stage,” he added.
Ghosn is out on bail in Tokyo, awaiting a trial that reports have suggested could start in April on charges of under-reporting millions of dollars in salary and using company funds for personal expenses.
He denies any wrongdoing.


Greek town bets on slow tourism to overcome virus

Updated 12 August 2020

Greek town bets on slow tourism to overcome virus

  • The pandemic is an opportunity to promote alternative tourism, fishing tourism

PREVEZA, Greece: Yannis Yovanos scans the waters of the Ambracian Gulf with his binoculars for dolphins shooting into the air before curving back down into the sea.

His early warnings prompt just a dozen tourists on the deck of Yovanos’ small boat to scramble for their smartphones, hoping to secure a snap of the aquatic mammals’ aerial acrobatics.

Officials in his home town of Preveza hope that it’s just this kind of small, family-run business that will help them overcome the coronavirus’ impact on travel — while sparing the region the environmental impact and economic distortions of the mass tourism more common on Crete or the Ionian islands.

“We don’t want to stay all day on a beach, we’re looking for a different experience,” said Dutch tourist Frederika Janssen.

“The pandemic is an opportunity to promote alternative tourism, fishing tourism,” as well as local life and culture “directly related to the natural resources that date from Antiquity,” said Constantin Koutsikopoulos, who heads the agency charged with managing the Ambracian Gulf.

Inside the gulf is a protected wetlands park, some 400 sq. km that is one of Europe’s Natura 2000 wildlife diversity regions.

One hundred and fifty dolphins, loggerhead sea turtles and 300 species of aquatic birds including the rare Dalmatian pelican live in the lagoons and reed beds of the gulf.

Nestled between green hills, the Ambracian Gulf is fed by rivers descending from the mountains of the Epirus region of northwestern Greece.

Yovanos’ hometown guards the little strait that connects the gulf with the Ionian Sea.

Dolphin watching trips like these mean “I am realizing my dream of living the life of a fisherman among our natural riches,” said the 49-year-old from behind a greying beard.

For Greece as a whole, a gamble on reopening its borders to tourists as early as June appears to have paid off for now.

New coronavirus cases have appeared only slowly since then, with fewer than 6,000 cases and just over 200 deaths nationwide from the pandemic.

Although Preveza has opted for a slower, more family-oriented approach to travel compared to better-known Greek destinations, it hasn’t renounced Mediterranean holiday clichés altogether.

With the sector suffering a big hit from the coronavirus epidemic, Preveza city officials launched a promotional campaign, securing the title of safest place for a European beach holiday from website European Best Destinations.

“Monolithi beach, the main beach of Preveza, is ... the longest one in Europe... you won’t have to struggle to get a nice spot, fix your beach umbrella and spend relaxing days in the sun,” it wrote.

And new infrastructure in the shape of a marina has helped draw sailors away from packed ports on the islands.

“Preveza is the right place compared to Corfu which is a very nice island but very crowded,” said Nick Ray, a British businessman, from the deck of his yacht that had put into the town’s port.

With its fishing and fish farming, the Ambracian Gulf is already the region’s economic motor.

Sustainable, environment-focused tourism should give the authorities even more reason to deal with the threats to the gulf such as pollution, poaching and illegal fishing.

There’s even something for ancient history buffs in the ruins of Nicopolis, founded by Caesar Augustus in honor of his naval victory nearby in 31 BC, where some Roman mosaics are still preserved.