© Reuters. Subaru logo is displayed at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan
© Reuters. Subaru logo is displayed at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan

TOKYO (Reuters) – Subaru Corp (T:) raised its operating profit forecast on Wednesday by more than a third to 110 billion yen ($1.05 billion) because U.S. vehicle sales rebounded more than it expected after the coronavirus pandemic hurt demand.

Like other automakers, Subaru, which sells two-thirds of its cars in the United States, had to shutter vehicle factories earlier in the year as the coronavirus spread. Customers also stayed away from dealerships leading to a drop in production and sales.

The improved profit outlook by Japan’s No. 7 automaker compared with a previous prediction of 80 billion yen. It is 48% less than it posted in the year that ended March 31 and also less than an average estimate for a 114 billion yen annual profit compiled from 19 analysts polled by Refinitiv.

The maker of Outback and Forester sport-utility vehicle crossovers said last month it doesn’t expect the U.S. market to rebound to the 17 million vehicle level it had been at before the pandemic for two to three years.

In the three months to Sept. 30 Subaru posted an operating profit of 46.3 billion yen compared with a 2.6 billion yen profit a year ago.

($1 = 105.0900 yen)

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