By Chang-Ran Kim
TOKYO (Reuters) - Honda Motor Co <7267.T> reported a 52 percent fall in quarterly operating profit and refrained from providing an outlook for the new year as it struggles to measure the speed of its recovery after last month's massive earthquake in Japan.
Japanese automakers have yet to figure out how fast all of the parts makers affected by the magnitude-9.0 quake on March 11 will fully recover, making it difficult to give an earnings projection for the business year to March 2012.
Japan's biggest earthquake on record has disrupted the supply of hundreds of components from the country's northeast region, reversing what had been shaping up to be a firm recovery from the global financial crisis a few years ago.
While the supply bottleneck of certain specialty components such as microcontroller units has also hit some automakers outside Japan, the brunt of the pain is being borne by domestic brands such as Honda, where production remains at half the level planned before the quake.
Honda, Japan's third-biggest automaker, said this week it expected production to return to normal by the end of 2011, echoing earlier comments by Toyota Motor Corp <7203.T>, but neither specified how quickly volumes would pick up.
For the January-March quarter, Honda's operating profit was 46.21 billion yen ($562 million), compared with an average estimate of 103.1 billion yen from 15 analysts polled by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
The company said the earthquake had a 45.7 billion yen negative impact on fourth-quarter operating profit.
Fourth-quarter net profit, which includes profits made in China, fell 38 percent to 44.55 billion yen.
A survey of 15 analysts put Honda's operating profit for the full year to March 2012 at 394 billion yen, down from 569.8 billion yen in the business year that just ended.
Honda's shares are down 6.2 percent from pre-quake levels, compared with a 7.6 percent fall in Tokyo's transport sectors subindex <.ITEQP.T>.
Honda shares ended up 2.9 percent at 3,190 yen before the results were announced on Thursday. The filing was delayed by 20 minutes, to 3:20 p.m. (0620 GMT), due to an administrative error on Honda's part, it said.
(Reporting by Chang-Ran Kim; Editing by Matt Driskill and Joseph Radford)