UPDATE 2-Honda sticks to 30 pct payout ratio, buyback eyed


* CFO confirms 30 pct payout ratio target vs current 23 pct

* Shares rise 2.2 percent, outperform Nikkei (Adds background)

TOKYO, Feb 17 (Reuters) - Japan's Honda Motor Co may buy back more shares by the end of the business year next month to meet its goal of reaching a payout ratio of 30 percent, with the ratio currently estimated at 23 percent.

In an interview with a small group of reporters this month, Chief Financial Officer Yoichi Hojo said Honda had not stood down on its target for shareholder return.

He stopped short of saying how the company would achieve it, but analysts have widely flagged share buybacks after Honda raised its dividend forecast.

Honda lifted its dividend for the year to March 31, to 54 yen from 48 yen when it reported its third-quarter results on Jan. 31. Combined with a previous share buyback, that would represent a payout ratio of 23 percent, Hojo said.

Deutsche Securities auto analyst Kurt Sanger wrote in a recent report that the company would need to spend 30-35 billion yen ($360 million-$420 million) to reach its targeted payout ratio this year.

"We very much believe further buybacks are a matter not of will, but of timing as Honda's management has a very strong track record of meeting this commitment," he said.

Shares in Honda were up 2.2 percent at 3,735 yen in morning trade, helped by a newspaper report that Honda was likely to buy back shares. The Nikkei average's rose 0.6 percent. (Reporting by Chang-Ran Kim in TOKYO and Swetha Gopinath in Bangalore; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)



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