Kobe Steel, Japan’s fourth-largest producer, returned to a quarterly profit and reduced its full-year loss forecast by 37%, after sales of metals used in cars and domestic goods were higher than expected.

The company expects a loss of JPN22bn ($243M) for the year to March 31, compared with its earlier forecast of JPN35bn ($396M), it said. The company had a loss of JPN31.4bn ($351.4M) a year earlier.

Kobe Steel benefited from rising exports and government incentives in Japan for fuel efficient cars and electrical products, as domestic construction demand fell, Hiroaki Fujiwara, senior managing director, said.
“Our sales of steel, aluminium and copper products will exceed our forecasts,” he said.

Net income at the company was JPN7.4bn ($82.8M) for the three months ended December 31, its first quarterly profit in five, compared with a loss of JPN4.2bn ($49M) for the same period a year earlier. Kobe Steel had a loss of JPN12bn ($138M) in the previous quarter.

Kobe Steel plans to produce 6.6Mt of crude steel in the 12 months to 31 March, up from its October estimate of 6.4Mt.