Yamaha says Q1 sales rise, profit beats target

TOKYO, Aug 7 (Reuters) - Japanese motorcycle maker Yamaha Motor Co said on Thursday its sales rose 3.3 percent in the latest quarter, with slack demand at home offset by strong sales overseas. Group net sales for April-June came in at 257.39 billion yen ($2.14 billion).

Reporting quarterly results for the first time, the company did not give year-ago comparisons for its profit figures, but said that group net profit came in at 8.72 billion yen, 24 percent ahead of its target.

The world's number two motorcycle maker stuck with its forecast of no profit growth this business year, saying two of its main markets -- the U.S. and Japan -- will be tough.

In May, it estimated its full-year operating profit would be 68 billion yen versus 67.68 billion a year ago.

In North America, demand is faltering for its all-terrain vehicles and outboard engines, sports products that are especially sensitive to economic conditions.

Sales are also likely to deteriorate at home, where the motorcycle market has been sputtering since the mid-1980s as the 660cc minivehicle market has grown.

In the long term, Yamaha is banking on younger Asian markets such as China and India to push up profits and help it grab a 20 percent share of the global motorcycle market in 2010, up from around eight percent now.

But analysts note that competition is becoming tougher and say Yamaha needs to match the lower prices of rivals Honda Motor Co and Suzuki Motor Corp .

($1=120.20 Yen)