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Global Credit Research - 18 Oct 2010
Tokyo, October 18, 2010 -- Moody's Japan K.K. says in a new report that Japan's
automakers face a slow recovery, and that it will be some time before
they can restore their profitability and ratings to levels seen before
the global financial crisis.
According to the report, the sector's recovery thus far is
in line with Moody's expectations and base case assumptions,
and that the industry's operating margin will continue to rise in
Moody's rates three Japanese automakers: Toyota Motor Corporation
(Aa2/negative); Honda Motor Co., Ltd. (A1/stable);
and Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. (Baa2/stable).
The report examines three key rating factors that will affect the credit
quality of Japan's big three automakers in the coming 12 to 18 months:
1) the earnings recovery; 2) growth in the Chinese and US markets;
3) their forex exposures.
The Japanese automakers' revenue and earnings should recover gradually
from the deep recession during FYE 3/2010 and FYE 3/2011. The first
quarter of FYE 3/2011 was very strong, and Moody's believes
that the second quarter will be in line with its expectations.
However, the environment from the second half of FYE 3/2011 through
FYE 3/2012 will be more challenging because of uncertainty about the Japanese
market and the strong yen.
Moody's expects that the recovery of the US market and a sustained
market share through 2011 will be positive for the earnings recovery of
the Japanese automakers.
According to the report, business in the US market has become more
competitive and challenging due to the revival of the US industry as well
as the growing strength of the Korean automakers.
Additionally, the quality gap between the Japanese manufacturers
and their competitors seems to be narrowing.
China, with its high growth potential, will soon become a
major profit driver for Japanese automakers, but their presence
on the mainland is much weaker than in other key markets, mainly
because of their conservative business strategies.
The high yen also is a major risk factor for the automakers' earnings
and competitiveness, the report says. A rapid and significant
strong yen would limit the ability of Japan's automakers to lower
their costs quickly, and their price competitiveness against overseas
rivals could weaken. A strong yen for a prolonged period will negate
any chance of sustained improvement in Japanese carmakers' recovering
profitability, which will be credit-negative.
The report, "Japanese Automakers on the Road to Recovery"
is available at www.moodys.com.
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Moody's says Japanese automobile industry on the road to recovery
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