Don't look now, but Toyota Motor Corp. has opened up a big lead on the rest of the global industry when it comes to profitability.
The Japanese juggernaut reported last week that net income in the April-June period rose to a quarterly record ¥587.8 billion ($5.7 billion). That's higher than Volkswagen's 3.19 billion euros ($4.4 billion), and more than the combined earnings of General Motors, Ford Motor Co., Nissan Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co.
A big reason: Surging SUV sales in the United States eclipsed shrinking demand in Japan.
"They sell an awful lot of high-end SUVs," Mark Yockey, a New York-based managing director at Artisan Partners, said before the company released results. "There's a waiting line to buy Highlanders in the U.S., and those sell at much higher margins than if you're just selling Corollas."
Toyota's $5.7 billion profit in the April-June period compares with Honda's $1.4 billion, Ford's $1.3 billion, Nissan's $1.1 billion and GM's $190 million.