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Honda Reports Booming Profit on Sales Growth

The carmaker sold more than 2.8 million vehicles globally.

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AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko, File

TOKYO (AP) — Honda's profit for the fiscal year through March jumped 70% as vehicle sales grew and a weak yen buoyed overseas earnings, the Japanese automaker reported Friday.

Annual profit at Tokyo-based Honda Motor Co. totaled 1.1 trillion yen ($7 billion) as sales surged nearly 21% to 20.4 billion yen ($131 million).

Weaker sales in China were offset by strong demand in the U.S. market.

Honda sold more than 2.8 million vehicles globally, up from 2.3 million a year earlier, with sales growing in Japan, the U.S. and Europe.

The maker of the Accord sedan and CR Electric Proto motorcycles was less optimistic about this fiscal year, forecasting that its profit will decline nearly 10% to 1 trillion yen ($6.4 billion), as research and development spending was expected to increase to nearly 1.2 trillion yen ($7.7 billion) from 964 billion yen.

All the Japanese automakers are investing in R&D, given the global shift to electric vehicles, using the profit gains they have racked up lately thanks to the blessings of a weak yen to invest in the future.

The U.S. dollar has been trading at about 155 Japanese yen, up from 130-yen levels a year ago.

Honda's Japanese rivals Toyota Motor Corp. and Nissan Motor Co., which both reported earnings earlier, racked up robust increases in profit, but also stressed they were investing in research.

Honda Chief Executive Toshihiro Mibe told reporters there was "anxiety due to uncertainty about electrification" at the company, despite its latest robust profits.

Japanese automakers have scored great success with traditional fuel-powered vehicles and hybrids, which have both a gas engine and electric motor.

But they have lagged rivals such as BYD of China and Tesla of the U.S. in the drive toward battery electric vehicles.

Honda said it would make the current fiscal year a major electrification year to ensure future growth. A strategy will be outlined next week, it said.

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