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S&P cuts rating outlook on Nissan to negative amid weak US sales

This photo taken at the head office of Nissan Motor Co. in Yokohama near Tokyo on Feb. 15, 2019, shows the company's logo. (Kyodo)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Standard & Poor's on Monday revised the outlook for its long-term corporate credit rating on Nissan Motor Co. to "negative" from "stable," predicting the automaker's sales in North America and Europe will remain weak in the current business year through March.

"We believe the company's profits will remain under stronger downward pressure than those of its peers," the U.S. ratings firm said in a statement, citing the company's weak product competitiveness with its lineup consisting of relatively aged models.

Nissan's long-term corporate credit rating was unchanged at A-minus, taking into consideration its sound financial position and its geographically diversified businesses partly thanks to its collaboration with alliance partners Renault SA and Mitsubishi Motors Corp.

The rating agency warned of a downgrade in the outlook in the event of a further delay in Nissan's profit recovery.

Nissan's group net profit hit a nine-year low in the year through last March, plunging 57.3 percent from a year earlier to 319.14 billion yen ($2.9 billion). It also forecast that profits will nearly halve in the current year to 170 billion yen.

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