TOKYO (Reuters) - Honda Motor Co's <7267.T> October-December net profit more than doubled to 160.7 billion yen ($1.56 billion), back to pre-Lehman crisis levels but lower than expectations, helped by strong sales of the redesigned Fit subcompact that went on sale in Japan in September.
The results, announced by Japan's third-biggest automaker by sales volume on Friday, were below the average estimate of 172 billion yen in a Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S poll of seven analysts. In the same period a year ago, Honda booked 77.4 billion yen in net profit.
For the year ending in March 2014, Honda stuck to its forecast of 580 billion yen in net profit, below expectations of 603.4 billion yen in a Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S survey of 20 analysts.
Honda cut its global car sales forecast for the financial year ending in March to 4.385 million vehicles from the previous forecast 4.43 million vehicles as sales in Thailand slowed after first-car buyer incentives ended.
Chief Executive Officer Takanobu Ito has set an aggressive goal of selling 6 million vehicles a year by end-March 2017, compared with a record 4.01 million in the year ended March 2013.
Honda is the first of Japan's big three automakers to announce quarterly results. The world's biggest carmaker, Toyota Motor Corp <7203.T>, will report results on February 4 and Nissan Motor Co <7201.T>, Japan's second-biggest automaker, on February 10.
(Reporting by Yoko Kubota; Editing by Matt Driskill)