Subaru vehicle maker Fuji Heavy Industries lost JPY148bn or $US165m in the nine months to 31 December as, in common with other Japanese automakers, it was hit by sluggish sales and the strong yen.

The company, part owned by Toyota Motor, posted a JPY17.9bn profit a year earlier.

Operating profit fell 73% to 9.9bn yen as revenue held steady at 1.1 trillion yen, the automaker said, according to Agence France-Presse (AFP).

The company maintained its forecast of ending the financial year to 31 March in the red for the first time since 1994 – it expects a net loss of JPY19bn and a JPY9bn operating loss.

“Despite increased sales in overseas markets, the strong yen and rises in other costs affected our earnings,” said the company.

Sales in Japan fell 9.3% by volume, while overseas sales rose 7.2% due to strong demand for the redesigned Forester sports utility vehicle.

Special costs related to bad debts and Subaru’s withdrawal from the world rally championship were also behind the nine-month loss, it said.