Chinese automaker BYD's Q1 profit to fall up to 35 pct y/y as green car sales slow

BEIJING, March 28 (Reuters) - Chinese automaker BYD Co Ltd,

backed by Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc,

forecast a 24-35 percent year-on-year fall in net profit for the

first quarter, as the government reins in subsidy support for

green energy cars.

The Shenzhen-based manufacturer , which

has invested heavily in making battery electric and plug-in

hybrid vehicles, estimated net profit for Q1 2017 at between 550

million yuan ($80 million) and 650 billion yuan.

BYD reported annual net profit rose 78.9 percent to 5.1

billion in 2016, roughly in-line with preliminary figures issued

last month.

China's central government aggressively promotes green

energy vehicles, including spending billions of dollars in

subsidies, to combat urban pollution and encourage technology

innovation.

But the country imposed stricter requirements on electric

carmakers after a subsidy cheating scandal last year. It also

cut subsidies 20 percent this year to promote competition.

"Changes to new energy vehicle (NEV) subsidy policy will

affect the first quarter, the NEV industry will have a

short-term adjustment," the automaker said in its Shenzhen

exchange filing.

"The group's NEV business will come under a certain

pressure, and NEV sales and profits are expected to decline."

BYD reported slower earnings in the third quarter last year

after four consecutive quarters of triple-digit growth as NEV

sales soared.

Earnings growth is expected to decline further in 2017 with

analysts polled by Reuters predicting an 8 percent rise in net

profit for the year.

Sales of electric and plug-in hybrid cars fell 30.5 percent

in the first two months of 2017 as consumers wait for local

governments to announce their new subsidy policies for the year,

which supplement those given by central authorities.

($1 = 6.8840 Chinese yuan renminbi)

(Reporting by Jake Spring; Editing by Randy Fabi and Mark

Potter)