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Record profit for carmaker Nissan

Nissan has reported record annual operating profits of 861.16bn yen (£5.5bn) to the end of March, up 4.4% on the year.

For the January to March period, profits rose 11% to 249bn yen (£1.23bn) compared with a year ago.

In Europe, sales for the year were flat at 544,000 units.

The company, along with other Japanese car companies Toyota and Honda, are taking market share from their European and US rivals.

While the Japanese are reporting rising sales and profits, firms such as General Motors, Ford and DaimlerChrysler are struggling to boost earnings.

"The fundamentals of the business are strong, our products are attractive to customers, and Nissan is poised for sustained, profitable growth," says chief executive Carlos Ghosn. Known as 'le cost killer', Ghosn has cut Nissan's overheads by 20% and trimmed its workforce by about 200,000.

Nissan aims to increase vehicle sales to more than four million by 2008, launching 28 new models in the process.

The company sold a record 3.39m cars worldwide during the past fiscal year. In the US sales rose by 18.4% - breaking through the one million mark for the first time.

Net income rose 1.7% to 512.3bn (£2.5bn) yen in the year to March, slightly above Nissan's forecasts.

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