Toyota Motor Corp’s full-year net profit jumped 10.3 percent even as the COVID-19 pandemic hit the auto industry, the Japanese firm said yesterday, projecting growth, despite the ongoing semiconductor crisis.
“Even though sales declined in the first half of the year due to the impact of the coronavirus, in the latter half of the year we saw a rise in sales in many regions,” Toyota chief financial officer Kenta Kon told reporters.
Toyota said it generated ￥2.25 trillion (US$20.6 billion) in net profit in the fiscal year to March, up from ￥2.04 trillion the year before, beating its own annual forecast.
For the year to March next year, it now projects an annual net profit of ￥2.3 trillion, up 2.4 percent.
Sales fell 8.9 percent to ￥27.2 trillion, but the firm expects to report a 10.2 percent gain to ￥30 trillion in the current fiscal year.
“Toyota’s performance was outstanding, compared with its rivals,” Satoru Takada, auto analyst at Tokyo-based research and consulting firm TIW, said before the announcement. “Toyota has maintained steady production while releasing timely models in major markets.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a heavy toll on the global auto sector, but demand recovered swiftly in the second half of last year, most notably in the US and China.
Even as vaccine rollouts put the end of the pandemic within sight for the hard-hit auto sector, it is battling a chip shortage driven by a surge in demand for electronic devices during lockdowns.
Supply disruptions — including a fire at a Japanese factory, an extreme cold snap in the US and a drought in Taiwan — have compounded the mismatch between demand and availability.
On Tuesday, Nissan Motor Co said it had narrowed its net loss to ￥448.7 billion for the fiscal year to March, but warned that its outlook remained clouded by the global chip shortage.
However, Toyota has been less affected than its rivals, thanks in part to a forward planning system intended to protect it from unexpected supply chain disruptions.
It also has close ties with its suppliers, including stakes in some of them, that have given it leverage and priority at a time when demand far outstrips supply, experts said.
“There were earthquakes in Tohoku and unfortunately there was a fire at our supplier, but we were able to overcome these, and avoid facing a major impact,” Kon told reporters.
Toyota reclaimed the title of world top-selling automaker last year, selling 9.53 million vehicles around the world, overtaking the 9.3 million sold by German rival Volkswagen AG.
The last time Toyota held the top spot was in 2015, with Volkswagen edging it out in the following years.
Analysts said investors were closely watching Toyota’s research and development costs as the company gears up electric-vehicle production.
Toyota, which pioneered hybrid cars, has unveiled plans for its first global lineup of battery electric vehicles, as other automakers have pulled ahead in electrification.
Last month at the Shanghai Auto Show the firm announced its future bZ line, or Beyond Zero, which should see seven models hitting showroom floors by 2025.
Honda Motor Co, which has unveiled plans to shift its line-up to battery and fuel cell electric vehicles by 2040, is to release its full-year results later this week.
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