Toyota ups profit outlook as sales grow in SE Asia, America

By Kayo Mimizuka and Mie Sakamoto, Kyodo News

Posted at Nov 05 2012 10:41 PM | Updated as of Nov 06 2012 06:43 AM

TOKYO - Toyota Motor Corp. raised its group operating profit projection Monday for the current business year through March to 1.05 trillion yen, from an earlier projected 1 trillion yen, on brisk sales in Southeast Asia and North America, despite declining sales in China.

Japan's largest automaker said its group vehicle sales totaled 4.52 million units in the six-month period through September, up 1.49 million units from a year earlier, with sales in Asia, excluding Japan, logging a record high of 839,865 units for any half-year period, up from 615,188, due mainly to robust performances in Thailand and Indonesia.

Toyota attributed a bright performance in North America to increased sales of its mainstay vehicles such as the Camry sedan and the Corolla passenger car, as well as the RAV4 sport utility vehicle. Sales volume in the region rose 571,424 units to 1.26 million units.

The automaker said it revised upward its earnings forecasts for the full business year as its earnings are expected to improve on cost-cutting efforts.

Toyota's parent-only operating loss for the year is expected to narrow from earlier projected 70 billion yen to 20 billion yen partly through such efforts.

The automaker, however, slashed its global sales target for the full business year by 50,000 units to 8.75 million units, citing the negative impact of a sales plunge in China in the wake of anti-Japanese protests in the country over a territorial dispute.

Executive Vice President Satoshi Ozawa said at a news conference the sales slump in China would affect Toyota's group net balance by roughly 30 billion yen for the full business year and would cut its vehicle sales by 200,000 units in the second half of the business year.

According to Toyota, the automaker's sales volume in China accounted for around 12 percent of its parent-only global sales of 7.1 million units in 2011.

Ozawa also acknowledged it would be difficult to achieve the goal of producing a record high 10.05 million vehicles in 2012 the automaker announced earlier, saying production is expected to be "a little less than 10 million units."

Toyota also revised upward its group net profit projection for fiscal 2012 to 780 billion yen from a profit of 760 billion yen projected in August on sales of 21.3 trillion yen, down from an earlier projected 22.0 trillion yen. The latest sales estimate represents a 14.6 percent increase from the year before.

In the April to September period, Toyota said its group net profit jumped to 548.27 billion yen from 81.58 billion yen a year earlier. Its group operating profit returned to the black, standing at 693.75 billion yen compared with a loss of 32.57 billion yen, on consolidated sales of 10.91 trillion yen, up 36.1 percent.

Aided by rosy sales of hybrid vehicles such as the Prius and the Aqua, as well as the government's subsidy program for the purchase of eco-friendly cars, sales in Japan climbed 394,867 units to 1.19 million units.

Ozawa, however, said sales volume in the domestic market is expected to drop around 130,000 units in the October to March period following the termination in September of the subsidy program, adding it aims to stay afloat by introducing new models.