Strong sales, weaker yen buoy Toyota
TOKYO -- Booming U.S. sales and a weaker yen have led Toyota Motor Corp. to raise its full-year forecast.
Toyota released a new earnings forecast, along with results for the fiscal third quarter ended Dec. 31. In that quarter, revenues rose 9 percent to ¥5.32 trillion yen, or about $61.9 billion, and net income increased 23 percent to $1.16 billion.
Toyota's unit sales in North America climbed 4 percent to 604,000 in the December quarter.
For the nine months through December, Toyota's sales in the region shot up 47 percent to 1.865 million vehicles. In those nine months, North America was Toyota's fastest-growing and largest-volume region. The company expects that to continue through the rest of the year ending March 31, predicting North America sales will surge 31 percent to 1.872 million for the year.
"The U.S. market is turning upward markedly," Senior Managing Officer Takahiro Ijichi told reporters. Brisk sales of the redesigned Avalon sedan and RAV4 crossover helped the advance, he said.
The yen's retreat against the dollar also helped shore up profits on vehicles exported from Japan.
Toyota now expects operating profit of $13.39 billion, up from its November 2012 forecast of $12.2 billion. The new forecast represents a threefold increase from operating profits a year earlier, when results were hammered by the March 2011 earthquake in Japan and massive flooding in Thailand. It was also a clear indication the company's comeback from those troubles is gathering force.
Toyota also lifted its net income target to $10.01 billion, from its earlier forecast of $9.08 billion. Last fiscal year, Toyota's net was $3.32 billion.
In the latest quarter, Toyota posted an operating loss in North America of $237.5 million, despite the brisk sales, compared with a year-earlier profit of $796.5 million.
Earnings were hit by a one-time expense of $1.05 billion to cover the settlement of unintended-acceleration lawsuits in the United States.
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