By K Inoue and T Komatsu/ Bloomberg
Tokyo: Toyota Motor Corp., the world’s largest automaker by market value, said fourth-quarter profit rose 8.9%, boosted by a weaker yen and increased sales of Corolla compact cars and Camry sedans.
Net income gained to 440.1 billion yen ($3.7 billion) in the three months ended 31 March, compared with 404.1 billion yen a year ago, the Toyota City, Japan-based carmaker said. That was more than the 427.6 billion yen average of eight analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg. Sales totaled 6.33 trillion yen in the quarter.
Toyota sold more vehicles than General Motors Corp. for the first time in the three months through March. The Japanese carmaker, set to end GM’s 76-year reign as the largest carmaker by sales as early as this year, is opening its eighth North American factory in Mississippi in 2010 and is boosting capacity in China, Russia and India.
“They can grow in Europe and they can still grow in the U.S.,” said Edwin Merner, president of Atlantis Investment Research Corp. in Tokyo, which manages about $2 billion in Japan and doesn’t own Toyota shares. “Toyota is also investing aggressively, which can hold down earnings growth, but they are doing the right thing.”
Toyota’s first-quarter retail sales rose 9.2% to a record 2.35 million vehicles, while GM’s sales gained 3% to 2.26 million vehicles, also a record. Toyota may surpass GM as the largest automaker on an annual basis this year, Koji Endo, an analyst at Credit Suisse Group in Tokyo said.