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Yamaha Motor Ups Profit Estimates

TOKYO, Sept 17, 2002- Reuters reported that Yamaha Motor Co Ltd, which has predicted record half-year and full-year earnings, on Tuesday raised those forecasts on the back of brisk motorbike sales in Asia and Europe.

Japan's second-largest motorcycle maker said it expects consolidated operating profit to jump to a record 62 billion yen ($507.2 million) for the year to next March 31, a 27 percent rise over its previous forecast in May and 66 percent higher than last year's result of 37.21 billion yen.

"We have had strong first-half sales in both our motorbike and marine-related divisions," said spokesman Tetsuo Ohsumi.

"In our motorbike division especially, we've seen a good performance in Asia, where we have been strengthening our operations, and the success of our new large scooter has also pushed up domestic sales," he said.

The upward revision in net profit was slight, however, on expected extraordinary losses related to investments in its Indian and Thai units.

It forecast a profit of 20.5 billion yen, up 2.5 percent from its earlier estimate and more than double last year's result.

Sales were revised one percent higher to 990 billion yen.

Analysts attributed most of the upward revision to strong North American sales of its new outboard motor and the larger size bikes it sells there.

"Its marine division is doing well in North America and they have a highly profitable model, and foreign exchange rates are not unfavourable," said Seiji Sugiura, auto analyst at Nomura Securities.

"It's a matter of how you see the second half. If the yen strengthens, then it will hurt them," he said.

Initially higher on a weaker yen that lifted auto stocks across the board, Yamaha's shares got an extra boost from the earnings revision, ending up 6.19 percent at 978 yen, outperforming a 3.27 percent rise in the Nikkei average (^N225 - News).

The company is aiming to raise its share of the global motorcycle market to 20 percent in 2010 from eight percent now, focusing in particular on fast-growing markets such as China and India.

While mainly known for its motorcycles, which account for about half its revenues, Yamaha also boasts large sales of boats and outboard motors, and makes industrial machinery.

For the first half alone, Yamaha revised up operating profit to 36 billion yen, a 57 percent rise from its previous estimate, and net profit to 9.5 billion yen, up 5.6 percent from its May forecast.