Honda Motor Co. has reported a record group net profit of 426.66 billion yen for the fiscal year ended March 31, up 18% from a year earlier. The company cited robust sales in world markets and cost cutting as factors behind the result.

While Honda topped its earlier group operating profit forecast of 660 billion yen, it fell just short of its targets for a group net profit of 430 billion yen and group sales of eight trillion yen for the just-ended fiscal year.

For the fiscal year ending March 2004, Honda expects to post a group net profit of 440 billion yen and a group operating profit of 620 billion yen on group sales of 8.300 trillion yen.

Honda's vehicle sales in overseas markets rose 15% to 4.926 trillion yen in fiscal 2002, offsetting a fall of 8.5% in its domestic vehicle sales to 1.513 trillion yen.

Among overseas markets, auto sales in North America grew 11% to 3.927 trillion yen, while sales in Europe were up 25% at 420.3 billion yen.

In the North American market, Honda's sales volume increased 11% to 1.5 million vehicles last year, while sales volume in the Japanese market fell 3.3% to 849,000 vehicles.

For the fiscal year through March 2004, Honda expects auto sales in North America to rise 2.5% to 1.56 million vehicles. Honda expects sales volume in Japan to rise 0.7% to 855,000 vehicles.

On the cost side, Honda is sourcing some of it parts from China and Southeast Asia, and is hoping that by 2004 its parts bill will be 10% lower than in 2002.