Mitsubishi Motors returned to an operating profit – JPY12.2bn – in its first fiscal 2011/12 quarter, an improvement of JPY16.7bn year on year.

Sales were up 7% to JPY431.9bn as unit volume rose from market growth chiefly in emerging markets. New models also drove the rise, the automaker said.

Higher net sales and other factors such as reductions in materials and other costs, which more than offset the negative impact of the strong yen, helped the return to operating profit.

Net profit was JPY4.3bn, up JPY 16.1bn.

Global retail sales volume rose 16% to 267,000 units. Japanese sales fell 11% to 34,000 units due to a drop in demand following the ending of the eco-car subsidies in September last year and effects of the March earthquake.

North America volume rose 51% to 31,000 units due mainly to higher sales in the United States following the launch of the Outlander Sport (ASX ) in October last year.

European sales were up 39% to 64,000 units, also thanks to strong sales of the ASX introduced sequentially into markets from June of last year, and a significant increase in Russia where demand is recovering.

In Asia and other regions, sales rose 11% to 138,000 units helped by strength in major Asean bloc countries including Thailand and Indonesia and in Latin America led by Brazil.

MMC has revised its fisal first half forecasts and now predicts unit sales of 518,000 units (+8,000); revenue of JPY880bn (+JPY20bn); operating profit of JPY18bn (+JPY13bn) and a net profit break-even (+JPY10bn).

In regard to the full year, MMC said “the many uncertainties that may impact the company’s operations, these including the strong yen, electrical power shortages in Japan, and  uncertainty of the direction of the global economy”, had prompted it to leave its full-year forecasts announced on 13 June unchanged – sales volume of 1,075,000 units, net sales of JPY1.95 trillion, operating profit of JPY50bn and net profit of JPY20bn.