CORRECTED-Honda Q1 profit jumps, but below market expectations


(Corrects paragraph 2 to say operating profit was nearly eight times year-ago figure, not more than six times)

TOKYO, July 31 (Reuters) - Honda Motor Co's operating profit rose less than expected in the April-June period to 176 billion yen ($2.25 billion), as a strong yen eroded some of the gains from its sales recovery in North America, its biggest and most profitable market.

While the result was below the average estimate of 197.4 billion yen by seven analysts polled by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S, it was nearly eight times the year-ago figure, as it rebounded after last year's March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

Japan's No.3 automaker on Tuesday kept its operating profit forecast unchanged at 620 billion yen for the year ending in March 2013 as the global economic outlook remains clouded by the euro-zone debt crisis and a slowdown in China, the world's biggest auto market.

The maker of Accord sedans and Super Cub motorcycles has mostly recovered from a dismal performance in 2011/12, when it was hit harder than rivals Nissan Motor Co and Toyota Motor Corp by natural disasters in Japan and Thailand that disrupted supply chains.

In May and June, Honda's auto sales surged by more than 45 percent from a year ago in the United States and by 50 to 60 percent in Japan, returning its market share to pre-disaster levels.

Shares in Honda have fallen nearly 20 percent in the financial year that began in April, the biggest drop among the top three Japanese carmakers. ($1 = 78.1900 Japanese yen) (Reporting by Yoko Kubota and James Topham; Editing by Edmund Klamann)



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