Mitsubishi Motors' annual profit tumbles, refrains from issuing forecastMitsubishi Motors' annual profit tumbles, refrains from issuing forecast
FILE PHOTO: Logos of Mitsubishi Motors Corp are seen at a showroom of the company’s headquarters in Tokyo

TOKYO (Reuters) – Mitsubishi Motors Corp <7211.T> posted on Tuesday an 89% drop in annual operating profit for its weakest performance in three years and skipped the year-end dividend, as the coronavirus outbreak added to the Japanese automaker’s profitability woes.

Profit came in at 12.8 billion yen ($119.21 million) for the year ended in March, down sharply from 111.8 billion yen a year ago. Still, it exceeded a consensus estimate of 9.4 billion yen profit drawn from 15 analysts polled by Refinitiv.

Mitsubishi, one of Japan’s smaller automakers, declined to give an earnings forecast for the current business year, as it waits to get a better view of the longer term impact of the coronavirus on its operations and sales.

It did not issue a year-end dividend, compared with 10 yen per share a year ago.

Global automakers are struggling to navigate around the coronavirus, which has pummeled car sales due to severe restrictions on people’s movements in many countries, while plant workers had been left unable to commute to work.

Though Mitsubishi and its rivals have begun to restart vehicle factories, anemic demand, supply chain disruption and social distancing measures at factories are expected to limit output in the coming months.

The automaker, a junior member of the automaking partnership between Nissan Motor Co <7201.T> and France’s Renault SA <RENA.PA>, sold 1.13 million vehicles globally in the year ended March, down 9% from the previous year.

The virus exacerbated Mitsubishi’s struggles in a year in which the automaker was already contending with falling sales in China and in southeast Asia, a key market, which had knocked profitability since April.

The alliance is expected to announce a revamped strategy later this month under which it will pledge to increase cooperation to drastically improve their joint operations to remain competitive in the fast-changing global auto industry.

(Reporting by Naomi Tajitsu; Editing by Louise Heavens and Muralikumar Anantharaman)