Toyota reports surging profits for October-December quarter

Thursday, February 5th 2004, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

TOKYO (AP) _ Japanese automaker Toyota Motor Corp.'s group net profit surged 60% during the latest quarter on robust sales worldwide that offset exchange rate losses in overseas earnings.

The world's second biggest automaker said Thursday its net profit totaled 286.4 billion yen ($2.7 billion) in the October-December period, up from 179.3 billion yen a year ago.

Sales totaled 4.39 trillion yen ($41.6 billion), up 8 percent from 4.05 trillion yen.

Toyota sold 1.7 million vehicles globally in the quarter, up 10 percent from 1.5 million a year ago. Of that, overseas vehicle sales climbed nearly 15 percent to 1.14 million vehicles.

Last year, Toyota surpassed Ford Motor Co. of the United States as the world's second largest automaker in terms of global vehicles sold. Detroit-based General Motors Corp. remains the world's top car manufacturer.

Toyota's North American retail vehicles sales crossed the 2 million mark for the first time last year at 2.07 million vehicles, said the manufacturer based in Toyota city in central Japan.

Toyota also has achieved growth despite a domestic market that's been weighed down by uncertainties about the economy and employment. Toyota's market share in Japan excluding minicars totaled a hefty 44.4 percent, up 0.8 percentage point from a year ago.

Sales were solid in Asia outside Japan and other regions, with vehicle sales up 24 percent to 367,000 vehicles.

Toyota raised its vehicle sales forecast for the current fiscal year ending March 31 to 6.65 million vehicles, up 80,000 from a previous prediction in November and up 540,00 from fiscal 2002.

It also raised its parent company forecast for the fiscal year to earnings of 560 billion yen ($5.3 billion) from an earlier 510 billion yen and its sales target to 8.8 trillion yen ($83 billion) from 8.7 trillion yen. Toyota does not give group earnings forecasts.

Rising sales offset the impact of a strong yen, which hurts Japanese exporters by eroding the value of their overseas earnings. The U.S. dollar was trading at about 109 yen during the latest quarter, down from about 123 yen the same period a year ago, according to Toyota.

``Despite challenging foreign exchange rate conditions, Toyota achieved year-over-year increases in net revenues and income,'' said executive vice president Ryuji Araki. ``Our continued growth is mainly due to significant cost reduction efforts as well as the active development of our overseas operations.''

For the first nine months of fiscal 2003, Toyota earned 810.9 billion yen ($7.7 billion), up 34 percent from 605 billion yen for April-December 2002. Sales rose to 12.6 trillion yen ($119 billion) sales, up 8 percent from 11.7 trillion yen in 2002.