Honda Predicts 65% Drop in Profit Amid Supply Woes

Hit by lingering effects of the March earthquake and tsunami in Japan that stifled production of its most popular cars, Honda (NYSE:HMC) forecast on Tuesday a worse-than-expected 65% decline in its fiscal operating profit.

The third-biggest automaker in Japan expects to book an operating profit of 200 billion yen ($2.49 billion) in the 12 months ending March 31, below average analyst estimates polled by Thomson Reuters of 407.2 billion yen.

Including earnings from China, Honda anticipates net profit of 195 billion yen, down a whopping 63% from 534.1 billion in the year-earlier period.

Unlike its peers, the company had been postponing its fiscal forecasts as it continued to weigh the extent the magnitude 9.0 earthquake had on its parts supplies. Toyota (NYSE:TM) last week predicted a 31% drop in 2012 profit of 280 million yen, which would be its lowest in two years.

In late April, Honda revealed a sharp 52% drop in its fiscal profit after the March 11 earthquake sent its production into a virtual standstill for the remaining two weeks of the month.

The supply delays led Honda to postpone by three months the launch of its new Fit Shuttle model, and they continue to stifle production of its popular Civic in the key U.S. market. Honda, which sold 23% fewer Civics and Accords last month compared with the same month last year,  has said it doesnt expect full production of the compact car to resume until the fall.

The automaker, which predicts global car sales down 6% from the year-earlier to 3.3 million units, said it expects production inside Japan to be nearly normalized by late June, with production outside of Japan returning to normal by late summer.