Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn has often been praised for his job turning around the two companies nearly a decade ago, and since then Nissan has shown nothing but profits. But in 2008, Nissan returned its first loss in 8 years, showing $2.4 billion in the red.

Operating losses were a somewhat smaller than net losses at $1.4 billion, but the fact remains that Nissan has been as hard-hit as any company in the meltdown of late 2008 and early 2009. Ghosn doesn't see an exit to the situation soon, but he thinks things may improve.

"The global economic recession and financial crisis continue, but we are beginning to see some signs of improved access to credit, the impact of government stimulus packages and a gradual return in consumer confidence," said Ghosn. "We remain cautious about the economic environment and fully focused on our company's recovery efforts."

Mazda is riding the same wave, though at a smaller amplitude. Reporting a net loss of $736 million for fiscal 2008, the company has fallen hard from the $765 million profit turned in fiscal 2007.

For fiscal year 2009, Nissan sees tough times with the strategy a tight one focused on minimizing losses. "2009 will be another challenging year. Our priorities will be preserving cash, improving our profitability and pursuing deeper synergies within the Renault-Nissan Alliance," said Ghosn. "We are balancing short- and long-term objectives to manage through the crisis and to prepare for the future."

Both Nissan and Mazda are forecasting losses for the 2009 fiscal year, however.