Isuzu Motors Ltd. announced Monday that its group net yearly profit surged 56.7 percent in 2006, to a record 92.39 billion yen ($776M), citing high demand for its trucks overseas.

Overseas vehicle sales increased 6.7 percent to 371,500 units last year as the company expanded its dealer networks and exported more light-duty trucks in the Middle East and South America.

Its total vehicle sales increased 4.9 percent to 468,301 units, although its national vehicle sales fell 1.4 percent to 96,801 units from the previous year.

Overall, its revenue rose 5.1 percent to 1.66 trillion yen ($13.9B).

The company said it will raise its dividend for fiscal 2006 to 4 yen (3.4cents) per share and 5 yen (4.2cents) per share for the current year.

For the current fiscal year, Isuzu expects to gain 80 billion yen ($672B) in group net profit, down 13.4 percent from fiscal 2006, and 1.65 trillion yen ($13.9B), down 0.8 percent.

The Tokyo-based car manufacturer projected that its share of trucks will continue to expand in the Middle East, Central and South America, and Africa although its national share will be weak. Sales overseas will increase to 64 percent of its total sales in fiscal 2007, up from 53 percent in the previous year, it said.

Isuzu will release its new midterm business plan in July and announce its strategy of a joint development with Toyota for the world's No.1 new small diesel engine.

The firms are developing their new diesel engine together and developments look hopeful, according to Isuzu Executive Vice President Susumu Hosoi.