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Last Updated: Tuesday, 10 February, 2004, 10:04 GMT
Nissan boom boosts Renault profit
French carmaker Renault has seen profits leap on soaring worldwide demand for cars from its partner Nissan and a good year for its Megane model.

The company said its net profits rose 27% in 2003 over the previous year to 2.48bn euros ($3.2bn; 1.7bn).

Sales also grew, up 3.3% despite a fallback in profitable markets such as Western Europe.

The firm's success comes partly from the popularity of cars made by Nissan, in which Renault has a 44% stake.

The Japanese car firm's own success meant an extra 1.895bn euros of profit for Renault, more than 75% of its overall earnings.

Nissan, in turn, owns 15% of Renault.

Tough times

For many European and US carmakers 2003 proved to be a less than successful year - especially when compared to breakneck sales growth for Japanese vendors such as Toyota.

Chrysler, for example, dropped out of the top three in the US for the first time in decades, while Germany's Volkswagen has seen disappointing sales of the new model of its flagship Golf.

Renault itself has suffered a similar fate in recent years, as new models from rivals upstaged its own ageing line up.

But its new Megane, updated in 2003, appears to have gone some way towards turning the tide.

The company's chairman, Louis Schweitzer, said he hoped the European car market would grow 1% in 2004.

He also said the company would be announcing a push to enter the Chinese market within months.

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