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Mazda profits soar

Mazda has reported a 67% increase in first-half profits inspired by strong European sales.

Group net income was ¥18.7 billion (£94.4m) in the six months that ended Sept. 30. Sales rose 9.2% to ¥1.32 trillion (£6.7 billion). Mazda raised its full-year profit forecast by 9% to ¥37 billion (£188.6m).

The company, which is one-third owned by Ford, has countered sales declines in Japan and the United States by selling more vehicles in Europe. The company also cut purchasing and development costs by sharing parts and designs with Ford, such as the engine-and-chassis platform used in the Mazda3 and Ford Focus.

Mazda sold 143,000 vehicles in Europe in the first half, 15% more than last year. North American sales fell 2.4% to 157,000 units. Sales in Japan, the world's second-largest vehicle market after the United States, fell 0.1% to 141,000 vehicles.

"Good momentum in the first half has given us the confidence to raise our full-year forecast," the chief financial officer, Gideon Wolthers, said in a statement.

The company increased its full-year sales forecast by 1.9%, to ¥2.71 trillion (£13.8 billion). The carmaker expects to ship 1.13 million vehicles in the year ending March, 4.2% fewer than its previous forecast.

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