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Subaru struggles to compete with McDonald’s on wages as U.S. inflation bites

Subaru sees worldwide wholesale volume zooming ahead 45 percent in the coming six months to 521,000 vehicles, driven by a 40 percent surge in the U.S. to 353,000 vehicles.

Subaru’s operating profit surged to 73.5 billion yen ($508.6 million) in the fiscal second quarter ended Sept. 30, from 24.9 billion yen ($172.3 million) the year before.

Net income nearly doubled to 50.6 billion yen ($350.2 million) in the three months.

Subaru’s performance was aided by slightly higher sales as the company gradually overcame crimped production from the COVID-19 pandemic and global semiconductor shortage.

Global output increased 39 percent to 220,000 vehicles in the July-September period, helping drive a 1.5 percent increase in worldwide sales to 203,000 vehicles. The rebound helped Subaru gain its footing after struggling to fill the product pipeline amid strong demand for its products.

Quarterly wholesale deliveries advanced 2.9 percent to 140,000 vehicles in the U.S. but fell 35 percent to 11,000 in Canada. They stayed flat at 4,000 in Europe.

Exchange rates turbocharged quarterly profits with a 58.3 billion yen ($403.4 million) windfall. The Japanese yen’s weakening against the U.S. dollar boosts the value of earnings repatriated to Japan. The currency has lost 28 percent of its value against the dollar since Jan. 1.

Subaru’s incentive spending in the U.S. shrank to $750 per vehicle in the quarter, from $900 the year earlier, helping deliver savings on that front, CFO Katsuyuki Mizuma said.

Looking ahead, an upbeat Subaru raised its profit outlooks, despite the cutbacks in its production and sales forecasts. The revision rides favorable tailwinds from the weak yen.

Subaru now expects operating profit to finish at 300.0 billion yen ($2.08 billion) in the current fiscal year ending March 31, 2023. That is up from an earlier forecast of 200.00 billion yen ($1.38 billion) and represents a tripling of operating profit from the previous fiscal year.

Net income is also seen rising threefold over the previous year. Subaru’s new goal is 210.00 billion yen ($1.45 billion), up from an earlier outlook of 70.00 billion yen ($484.4 million).

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