Sat, Feb 06, 2016 - Page 15 News List

Toyota’s nine-month net profit jumps to US$16bn

AFP, TOKYO

Toyota Motor Corp yesterday said nine-month net profit jumped about 10 percent to ¥1.9 trillion (US$16 billion), despite falling sales in most regions, with the world’s top automaker focused on squeezing more productivity out of its plants.

The Corolla and Prius maker also slightly raised its fiscal year profit forecast to ¥2.27 trillion while it trimmed its annual sales forecast.

Unit sales were down in most regions, including Europe and Japan, the company said, but not in North America.

The region has stood out for Japanese automakers, with rival Honda Motor Co last week saying it was a bright spot that helped offset sluggish sales at home.

Toyota and its domestic rivals have benefited from healthy growth in the US where low interest rates are proving a boon to consumers, although the US Federal Reserve’s possible plans for more rate hikes this year could dampen demand.

Weakening demand in emerging markets such as Thailand and Indonesia, as well as a planned consumption tax hike in Japan next year, could also eat into sales, analysts said.

"A further slowdown in emerging economies may affect [Toyota's] sales overseas and an expected rate hike in the United States would dampen customers' appetite," for new cars, SMBC Friend Research Center analyst Shigeru Matsumura said. "These are potential risks."

The company has said all its domestic parts plants would shut for a full day next week, expanding a production suspension that is set to be its longest since the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster.

The move was due to a components shortage following an explosion at a supplier.

It was not clear if the temporary production shutdown would affect results in the current quarter.

"We are going to take all the necessary measures for a speedy recovery of production," Toyota managing officer Tetsuya Otake told a news briefing. "The impact of the suspension is not taken into account in our forecasts — it is difficult to evaluate for the time being."

Toyota last month kept the title of world's top automaker for the fourth straight year after saying it sold 10.15 million vehicles globally last year, surpassing Volkswagen AG and General Motors Co.

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