TOKYO (AP) - Toyota cruised back to profit in the latest quarter
as the world's top carmaker cut costs and hitched a ride on the
global auto sales recovery while fighting to salvage its reputation
Toyota Motor Corp. said Tuesday that January-March profit
totaled 112 billion yen ($1.2 billion) compared with a 766 billion
yen loss the year before.
Quarterly revenue jumped to 5.28 trillion yen ($57 billion) from
3.54 trillion yen a year earlier, when purchases of cars and other
vehicles were slumping amid the global financial crisis.
Toyota is forecasting even better results for the fiscal year
through March 2011, projecting annual profit to rise 48 percent to
310 billion yen ($3.3 billion).
Whether the world's biggest automaker can continue its recovery
rests in part on salvaging its reputation after recalling more than
8 million cars worldwide for faulty gas pedals, a braking software
glitch, faulty floor mats and other defects.
On Monday, the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety
Administration said it is carrying out a new investigation into
Toyota to see whether it had stalled on a recall for a steering
defect in 2005 in the U.S. It had carried out recalls for similar
problems in Japan in 2004.
Toyota has already paid a maximum fine of $16.4 million for
dallying on a recall for acceleration problems, and NHTSA could
slap it with a fine of up to that amount again over the steering
U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, who is in Japan to
visit Toyota and inspect high-speed trains, said Monday that
additional fines may be levied against Toyota.
President Akio Toyoda, who is the grandson of the automaker's
founder, said Tuesday the company was cooperating with the
investigation, but did not elaborate.
Toyoda, appointed president in June last year, acknowledged that
his job was similar to steering a ship in the middle of a storm. He
said the ship was sailing toward what appeared to be sunny skies
because employees were working together 'in one spirit."
"I feel that I am now at last standing at the starting point
with the latest earnings," he told reporters at Toyota's Tokyo
office. "This year will mark a new beginning for Toyota."
Toyota managers have given up their bonuses since the global
fallout from the collapse of investment bank Lehman Brothers sent
the automaker into the red.
Toyoda said that will continue and they will also return a
portion of their monthly salaries to take responsibility for the
recall mess, although he did not give figures.
The latest results appear to show Toyota has managed to contain
the damage from the spate of recalls - at least, so far.
Toyota officials said the company spent 100 billion yen on
recall-related measures, and lost between 70 billion yen and 80
billion yen in sales during the year ended March 31.
They were vague about such damage for the current year, except
to say Toyota estimates spending 80 billion yen for incentives to
Although sales have held up in recent months, much of that came
from unprecedented incentives to lure customers in North America as
well as growth from fast-growing Asian nations like China.
For the fiscal year through March 31, Toyota posted a 209
billion yen ($2.3 billion) profit, a dramatic reversal from a 437
billion loss in the previous fiscal year, which was the automaker's
worst annual red ink since being founded in 1937.
The annual results were much better than analysts' forecasts and
Toyota's cautious, internal forecast for an 80 billion yen profit.
Global sales for the year ended March 31 totaled 7.24 million
vehicles, down 4 percent from the previous year. Toyota is
expecting that to improve to 7.29 million for the current fiscal
Toyota is forecasting revenue to improve 1.3 percent to 19.2
trillion yen for the year through March 2011, from 18.95 trillion
yen for the year ended March 31. That had marked a 7.7 percent
decline from the previous year.
Toyota said it has figured in costs for recall-related expenses
in its forecasts for the current fiscal year.
"To achieve further profit recovery, what we need to do is
offer high quality, reasonably priced vehicles," said Toyoda,
while stressing that tough times were likely to continue.
Toyota's stock price slipped 0.7 percent to 3,495 yen in Tokyo.