Suzuki reported a 13.1% decrease in motorcycle sales volume over the first three quarters of its 2013-2014 fiscal year, but still managed a 17.8% increase in net sales from its motorcycle division. That may seem like a paradox, but the results can be explained by a more favorable exchange rate for the Japanese yen and by looking closer at where those sales decreases took place.
The yen has turned around significantly over the last year and a half, vastly improving how foreign sales affect Suzuki’s bottom line. In September 2012, a single U.S. dollar was worth about 78 Japanese yen, but today, the U.S. dollar is up to 101.6 yen, a 30% improvement.
According to the company’s financial report for the third quarter ended Dec. 31, 2013, Suzuki sold 1,544,000 motorcycles over the nine-month period, down from 1,776,000 units in the same period from the previous year. The bulk of those sales decreases however were in the Asian market, where Suzuki’s sales volume decreased 15.4% to 1,242,000 motorcycles from 1,469,000 motorcycles. In China alone, Suzuki’s sales decreased by 180,000 units compared to the previous year. Most of those motorcycles are inexpensive small-displacement models, minimizing the hit to the financial results.
In more developed markets where the product lineup consists of larger, more expensive models, Suzuki reported much smaller sales decreases. Suzuki’s North American sales are only slightly below last year’s level with about 32,000 units sold over the first three quarters. Suzuki’s domestic sales are also holding steady with about 55,000 units sold in Japan. In Europe, where many manufacturers are also struggling against a weak economy, sales are down slightly to 37,000 units from 38,000 units sold the previous year.
Combined with a favorable exchange rate and Suzuki’s sales revenues don’t look too bad at all. North American motorcycle sales accounted for 28.2 billion yen in revenue (US$275.7 million), up from 23.9 billion yen in the same nine month period in the previous year. Even in Asia, Suzuki reported a 15.3% increase in motorcycle revenue, taking in 85.9 billion yen.
Unfortunately, sales revenue is only part of the picture. Suzuki’s motorcycle business is still operating at a loss, though the operating loss shrank to 4.6 billion yen (US$45.0 million) from 10.0 billion yen.
Overall, Suzuki reported a net profit of 82.5 billion yen (US$806.8 million) over the first three quarters of the 2013-2014 fiscal year, compared to a profit of 48.4 billion yen last year. For the rest of the fiscal year ending March 31, 2014, Suzuki expects a net profit of 105.0 billion yen. Suzuki forecasts sales of 2,037,000 motorcycles by the end of the fiscal year, down 11.9% from 2,312,000 in the 2012-2013 fiscal year.