Fourth-quarter profits drive Toyota recovery

Japanese car giant reports $2.5bn annual profit as production bounces back after disruption caused by quake and tsunami.

    Fourth-quarter profits drive Toyota recovery
    Toyota President Akio Toyoda said the company's vision was to be profitable in any business circumstances [EPA]

    Japanese car manufacturer Toyota has posted quadrupled fourth quarter profits, consolidating its solid recovery from a sales plunge triggered by disruptions caused by last year's earthquake and tsunami.

    On Wednesday, Toyota forecasted its net profit to $1.5bn in the three months to the end of March, up from $300 million a year earlier, while an annual $2.5bn profit beat company projections. 

    "We expect a great increase in sales mainly in North America and Asia this year, especially as we plan to roll out new models."

    Satoshi Ozawa, Toyota's executive vice president

    "Our vision is to establish a strong business foundation that will ensure profitability under any kind of difficult business environment," Toyota President Akio Toyoda said in a statement.

    The earthquake and tsunami in Japan disrupted the country's supply chain, resulting in production being halted in Toyota's factories both at home and abroad.

    Just as the firm was recovering, it was dealt another blow by floods in Thailand which affected production later in the year.

    However, the firm has seen its production recover to normal levels since then. That has also translated into increased sales, especially in the US, which is one of the biggest markets for the firm.

    Toyota is expecting to sell 8.7 million vehicles this fiscal year, 1.3 million more vehicles than the nearly 7.4 million vehicles it sold for the year ended March.

    Market share

    Toyota saw its vehicle sales grow in Japan, Europe and Africa, although not in North America where its image has suffered from a series of massive recalls since 2009.

    However, Toyota is regaining market share there, reporting an 11.6 per cent rise in sales in the US in April from a year earlier, outpacing overall growth in the US car market.

    "We expect a great increase in sales mainly in North America and Asia this year, especially as we plan to roll out new models," Satoshi Ozawa, Toyota's executive vice president, told a news briefing.

    Along with the natural disasters, Toyota has also had to battle against a strong Japanese currency.

    The Japanese yen also rose by as much as 10 per cent against the US dollar between April 2011 and February 2012, despite efforts by the Japanese central bank to stem its rise.

    The comeback at Toyota is also playing out at other Japanese car manufacturers.

    Last month, Honda reported its January-March profit jumped 61 per cent on car and motorcycle sales, forecasting record global sales of 4.3 million vehicles for this fiscal year.

    Nissan will be reporting their fiscal results on Friday.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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