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New models help carmaker BYD bounce back from 2012 profit plunge

BEIJING (Reuters) – BYD Co Ltd , a Chinese carmaker backed by billionaire Warren Buffett, said new and upgraded models were winning back buyers and would boost first-quarter profit after a plunge in 2012 earnings.

The company said on Sunday prospects for 2013 were improving as models including the Suri compact car and S6 SUV, which hit the showroom in the second half of 2012, won back some of its lost customers.

In a stock exchange filing, BYD said it expected to book between 100-140 million yuan ($16.10-22.54 million) net income in January-March, up sharply from 27 million yuan a year earlier, thanks largely to rising car sales.

Last year, its net profit plunged 94 percent to 81.4 million yuan from 1.4 billion yuan a year earlier, in line with its preliminary results announced in late February, it said.

BYD sold 456,056 cars in 2012, up just 1.7 percent from a year earlier, lagging rivals Great Wall Motor Co and Geely Automobile Holdings Ltd , which posted increases of 28 percent and 15 percent respectively.

BYD’s slowing cell phone assembly business and loss-making solar panel division also weighed on its bottom line in 2012, it added in a statement.
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