TOKYO -- Rating agency Standard & Poor's on Tuesday raised the outlook on Toyota Motor Corp.'s 'AAA' long-term debt rating to stable from negative, citing its stellar performance despite a harsh business environment.
Japan's biggest auto maker boosted sales in every major car market last year thanks to a steady launch of popular, new models.
"Backed by its strong product competitiveness and the geographic diversity of its operations, Toyota is expected to preserve its excellent market position and solid financial performance," S&P's credit analyst Chizuko Satsukawa said in a report that affirmed the agency's top 'AAA' rating on Toyota.
S&P said it expected Toyota's operating and financial performance to keep improving as it continues to cut costs and strengthen its sales channels.
Toyota's leadership in the development of cleaner, next-generation cars will also help it maintain solid profitability despite intense global competition and the recent unfavorable rise in the yen against the dollar, it said.
Toyota, which probably overtook Ford Motor Co. as the world's second-biggest auto maker in 2003, also has a top-notch Aaa long-term credit rating from Moody's Investors Service.
Minutes after the S&P report, Toyota's shares hit an intraday high of 3,750 yen, up 1.9 percent from Monday. The main Nikkei average was up 1.11 percent in late afternoon trade.
S&P has a long-term debt rating of BBB- on Ford and BBB on General Motors, the world's top automaker.