Tokyo: Toyota Motor Corp reported a 47.6% drop in quarterly profit, hit by slumping Japanese car sales and a firm yen that underlined its exposure to loss-making exports, but lifted its forecast as cost cuts kicked in.
Domestic rival Nissan Motor Co is seen suffering a drop in October-December profits and Honda Motor Co has already posted weaker results for the period. But the decline at Toyota is set to be the deepest given its heavier exposure both to unprofitable exports from Japan and to the shrinking Japanese market.
“Compared with other Japanese automakers, Toyota has greater exposure to the domestic market and therefore is more subject to the negative impact of the country’s slow economic growth,” said Kazuyuki Terao, chief investment officer at RCM Japan.
“(The revised outlook) is slightly above the market consensus, but since the company had been widely expected to raise its forecast, it’s no surprise.”
Toyota exported more than half of its Japan-made vehicles last year, making a loss on many of them with the dollar well below the rate of ¥90 that president Akio Toyoda has said is the minimum to keep Japan’s manufacturing sector competitive.
Global sales forecast
For the full year to 31 March, the world’s biggest automaker lifted its forecast for annual operating profit to ¥550 billion ($6.68 billion) from a cautious ¥380 billion, after profits for the first nine months exceeded that figure.
A survey of 23 analysts by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S forecast annual operating profit of ¥489 billion for Toyota, trailing expected earnings at smaller rivals Nissan Motor Co and Honda Motor Co.
The carmaker also nudged up its global sales forecast to 7.48 million vehicles from 7.41 million, with domestic sales expected to reach 2.02 million vehicles compared with an earlier prediction of 1.99 million. It kept its US forecasts unchanged at 2.09 million units
Toyota’s October-December operating profit was ¥99.07 billion, down from ¥189.1 billion in the same period a year earlier, while net profit fell 38.9% to ¥93.63 billion.
Wide-ranging estimates from nine analysts surveyed by Reuters put Toyota’s third-quarter operating profit at an average ¥70.6 billion. Profits made in China are not counted on the operating level at Toyota, which reports under US accounting rules.
Toyota, which stayed ahead of General Motors Co as the world’s biggest automaker by a thinner margin last year, built 3.28 million vehicles in Japan last year, compared with 992,000 for Honda and 1.13 million for Nissan.
Toyota shares have risen 18% in the past three months versus a 13% gain in Tokyo’s broad TOPIX index. Honda gained 22% and Nissan rose 13%.
Before the results were announced on Tuesday, Toyota ended trading unchanged from the previous day at ¥3,490, while the TOPIX gained 0.4%.