TOKYO -- Honda ( HMC) posted a 72 billion yen ($774 million) profit for the January-March quarter in a reversal from red ink a year earlier as booming demand in China and India combined with a fledgling U.S. recovery to boost car sales.

Honda, Japan's No. 2 automaker, reported Wednesday that quarterly sales surged 28% from a year earlier to 2.28 trillion yen ($24.5 billion).

Honda, which makes the Insight hybrid and the Odyssey minivan, sold 874,000 vehicles for the fiscal fourth quarter, up 28.5% from 680,000 the year before.

Honda's better fortunes mirror similar recoveries at other Japanese automakers, whose results had been battered the previous year by the financial crisis.

Honda's sales in Japan recovered, helped by tax breaks for "green" models and brisk demand for smaller models like the Fit, the automaker said.

For the fiscal year ended March 31, Honda reported a 96% rise in profit to 268.4 billion yen ($2.9 billion). Sales of 8.58 trillion yen ($92.3 billion) were down 14% from the previous year.

Honda is expecting better results for the fiscal year through March 31, 2011, forecasting 340 billion yen ($3.7 billion) in profit, up 27% from the fiscal year just ended. Sales are projected to climb 9% to 9.34 trillion yen ($100.4 billion).

The automaker is targeting sales of 3.6 million vehicles for the current fiscal year, up nearly 7% from 3.4 million last year.

Honda's U.S. sales have been recovering moderately, while the European market was also gradually beginning to recover in the latter half, helped by government incentives, according to Honda.
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