Honda’s third quarter profit rose 74% to a record level for the period, bolstered by the impact of the weak yen and strong sales at home and in overseas markets. The results were broadly in line with analysts’ expectations.

The company said that net income rose to 82.3 billion yen ($621 million), or 84.4 yen a share, for the October- December quarter, from 47.3 billion yen, or 48.6 yen a share, a year earlier.

The decline of the yen during the period inflated the yen value of overseas earnings Honda said its gains from currency changes totalled 39 billion yen for the quarter. Observers noted however, that the yen has recently gained against the dollar.

Honda sales for the third quarter rose 11% to 1.76 trillion yen, while operating profit rose 61 percent to 155 billion yen.

Honda is currently riding the crest of a wave. In 2001, Honda edged Nissan to the number 2 spot in the Japanese market and the B-segment supermini-sized Fit hatchback (Jazz in export markets) was ‘Japan Car of the Year’.

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Honda will launch a supermini based on the Fit platform in Thailand by end 2002 in order to supply other ASEAN markets with a Fit-based car and ease capacity problems in Japan, where the car has been hugely popular.

In the US, strong sales of the Odyssey minivan helped Honda to increase 2001 sales by 7% to over 1.2 million units.

Honda is expanding in South America too: Honda do Brasil has started to add capacity to its Sumaré plant, in São Paulo state, to produce the Fit.