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Mitsubishi raises profit forecast on higher coal, LNG prices

FILE PHOTO: The signboard of Mitsubishi Corp is pictured at its head office in Tokyo

TOKYO (Reuters) - Mitsubishi Corp on Tuesday raised its full-year net profit forecast by 21% to a record 1.03 trillion yen ($7 billion), amid strength in metals and energy segments thanks to higher prices of coking coal and liquefied natural gas (LNG).

Like global energy companies, Japanese trading houses have benefited from surging oil, gas and coal prices this year in the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Mitsubishi boosted its profit outlook for the year to March 31 to over 1 trillion yen from its May estimate of 850 billion yen. The latest forecast was in line with a mean estimate of 1.08 trillion yen in a poll of 10 analysts by Refinitiv.

"In addition to metals and natural gas, which captured the tailwind of market condition, strong profits are expected to come from other segments, including automobiles, electric power solutions and general materials," Mitsubishi Chief Executive Katsuya Nakanishi told a news conference.

"Still, downside risks are also factored in for the second half of the financial year, taking into account concerns about a slowdown in the global economy," he said.

For the April-September first half, net profit nearly doubled to a record 720 billion yen, helped by a rally in coking coal and LNG as well as a one-off gain from selling a real estate management company.

Reflecting robust earnings, Mitsubishi raised an annual dividend forecast to 155 yen per share from its earlier guidance of 150 yen, while announcing a plan to buy back its own shares worth up to 70 billion yen, which means a total payout ratio of 28.7%.

"We will consider additional shareholder return, taking into account our total payout ratio target of 30-40%," Nakanishi said.

Mitsubishi's rivals, such as Mitsui & Co, Marubeni Corp, Sumitomo Corp and Sojitz Corp, also lifted their annual earnings predictions last week to record profits, backed by the yen's sharp fall against the U.S. dollar.

($1 = 146.2800 yen)

(Reporting by Yuka Obayashi; Editing by Bernadette Baum)