Subaru car maker Fuji Heavy Industries on Tuesday said its automobile division saw increased sales in the fiscal first half of 3.9% to 623.93bn yen.

Global vehicle sales rose 1.7% to 269,000 units and, while domestic sales fell 1.7% to 112,000 units, overseas sales increased 4.2% to 157,000 units, Kyodo News said.

April-September group net profit rose 45.8% from a year earlier to 11.60bn yen, the first increase in three years, due partly to brisk auto sales overseas.

The robust profit growth in the first half of fiscal 2006 was attributed to a rise in gains on fixed asset sales and the absence of a project cancellation loss posted a year earlier, as well as smooth sales growth.

Group operating profit in the six months increased 4.1% to 18.13bn yen and pretax profit 2.6% to 13.88bn yen, the news agency added.