Renault shares plummet on Nissan woes

( AFP ) - Shares in French automaker Renault plunged more than 7.0 percent on Friday after weak sales figures from its Japanese partner Nissan overshadowed its own broadly positive trading update.

Shares closed down 7.58 percent at 86.45 euros in Paris after Nissan, 44-percent owned by Renault, reported that its December sales fell 2.4 percent.

Nissan shares plunged by 9.0 percent in Tokyo trading on Friday amid a broad sell-off of auto stocks because of fears about the impact on car demand of record oil prices and a global economic downturn.

Separately on Friday, Renault said it expected global sales growth of more than 10 percent this year after a 2007 gain of 2.2 percent to some 2.49 million vehicles.

It said 2008 would begin with the launch of nine new models and hoped for progress across its three brand lines -- Renault, Samsung and Dacia -- after last year's performance reversed a 4.0 percent drop in sales in 2006.

"Our commercial performance in 2007 is in line with our forecasts," sales director Patrick Blain said in a statement.

Despite the 2.2 percent rise in sales for 2007, Renault lagged global auto market growth and its market share accordingly slipped back to 3.6 percent from 3.7 percent.

Renault brand sales rose 1.0 percent to 2.12 million vehicles last year, with the low-cost Dacia range built in Romania rising 17.4 percent to 196,378 while Samsung was down 1.4 percent at 121,660.

In a note to clients, analysts at French investment bank Natixis said the Nissan sales performance would weigh on Renault shares given that the French group generates two-thirds of its profits from its Japanese partner.

The broker also said that a move by fellow Japanese group Toyota to lower its forecasts for the US market had dragged Nissan down in Tokyo trading.

Toyota said its monthly sales in the US had slipped 2.0 percent last month.

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