TOKYO, April 24 (Reuters) - Japan's Mazda Motor Corp on Friday forecast a modest 3.5 percent rise in operating profit in the year ahead, as losses from the yen's strength against the euro and Australian dollar outweigh windfalls from the firmer U.S. dollar.
For the year though March 2016, Mazda said in a statement it expected an operating profit of 210 billion yen ($1.76 billion), based on a dollar rate of 120 yen and a euro rate of 130 yen. A Thomson Reuters survey of 24 analysts before the Friday statement estimated the annual profit would be about 234 billion yen.
The growth forecast came as Hiroshima-based Mazda reported numbers showing operating profit for the fourth quarter of the year ended March 31 slid 11.5 percent to 50.9 billion yen, below Thomson Reuters SmartEstimate's forecast of 53.21 billion yen. That left full-year profit at 202.89 billion yen, shy of its guidance of 210 billion yen.
Mazda is the first Japanese automaker to report earnings for the year ended March. Unlike most domestic peers, Mazda is expected to see a negative impact from exchange rates this year: some currently profitable U.S.-bound exports from Japan will be reduced with the launch of a new factory in Mexico, reducing windfall foreign exchange gains.
$1 = 119.4900 yen Reporting by Chang-Ran Kim; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell