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Nissan Hopes To Up Japan Mkt Share

October 3, 2000

TOKYO (AP) _ Nissan Motor Co. president Carlos Ghosn hopes to raise the company’s share of the Japanese auto market to at least 20 percent with a series of new models, several analysts who heard him speak said.

Ghosn stressed that he wants to ``regain a reasonable market share″ at home, and that a double-digit percentage ``starting with a 2″ would satisfy him, the analysts said they were told in a meeting Tuesday.

In the first six months of the current fiscal year, Nissan captured 17.4 percent of the roughly 3.11 million new vehicles sold in the domestic market, down from 19.7 percent in the April-September period last year, according to the Japan Automobile Dealers Association.

The meeting, which Nissan holds for analysts and investment professionals ahead of its earnings announcements, was at the company’s headquarters in Tokyo.

Nissan is scheduled to announce on Oct. 30 its earnings for the fiscal first-half through Sept. 30.

Ghosn, the Brazilian-born executive who was dispatched to Nissan by Renault SA after the French automaker acquired a 37 percent stake in Nissan, has repeatedly said he will return the debt-laden company to profitability at the end of this fiscal year on March 30, 2001, by boosting worldwide sales with new eye-catching cars and by cutting costs.

Chris Richter, an auto analyst at HSBC Securities Japan, said Ghosn was ``very bullish″ about attaining both of those goals.

Ghosn told analysts that their forecasts ``were all wrong″ and that even the most bullish analysts’ predictions were ``too conservative,″ Richter said.

``And since this isn’t a man given to exaggeration, I think we can expect that a few surprises are on the way,″ he added.

Shu Nung Lee, an analyst at Lehman Brothers, said Ghosn did not disclose specific figures.

Lee expects Nissan to report a strong performance for the April-September period due to robust growth in the U.S. auto market and a weaker-than-expected yen.

Nissan had forecast that the dollar would trade on average at 103 yen, but so far, with the U.S. currency trading closer to 107, the company’s profits should appear bigger when converted to yen, Lee said.

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