Toyota again reports record sales, earnings

Fiscal 3Q results on pace to catch GM

February 07, 2007|By New York Times News Service

TOKYO -- Another quarter of record profits and sales released by the Toyota Motor Corp. yesterday painted a picture of a company whose forward momentum is pushing it into a virtuous cycle of sorts, allowing the auto company to stay on a roll, analysts said.

Toyota said that its net income rose 7.3 percent in its fiscal third quarter that ended Dec. 31 to a record 426.8 billion yen, or $3.54 billion, from 397.5 billion yen in the comparable quarter of 2005.

The automaker said its revenue rose 15.2 percent to 6.15 trillion yen, another record.

Toyota has posted record sales gains every period since it began reporting quarterly results four years ago.

With its roaring pace of profits, analysts say that Toyota could pour huge sums back into developing new models and technologies, which in turn could further strengthen it competitively.

Analysts say this cycle could allow Toyota to open a yawning lead over its rivals: the results show Toyota on track not only to pass the General Motors Corp. and become the world's biggest auto company this year, but to widen the divide between it and other Japanese companies and automakers in South Korea and China.

"The gap between Toyota and the second-place car company will just get bigger and bigger," predicted Koji Endo, an auto analyst in Tokyo for Credit Suisse. "It'll be tough for rivals to come up with products to catch up again."

Many of the gains reported yesterday came in North America, Toyota's largest market, where it reported strong sales of its Yaris compact, Camry sedan and RAV4, a crossover sport utility vehicle. Toyota said it sold 764,000 vehicles in North America in the fiscal third quarter. That was 121,000 more than in the comparable period of 2005.

Worldwide, Toyota said it sold 2.16 million vehicles, 175,000 more than in the fiscal third quarter a year of 2005. That kept the company on pace to meet its projected 9.34 million vehicles sales in 2007, a mark that would almost certainly allow it to surpass GM, analysts have said.

Yesterday, Toyota reaffirmed its full-year forecast of earning 1.55 trillion yen in net profit in the fiscal year ending March 31, though executives suggested the company may surpass it.

"We intend to beat our forecast," said Takeshi Suzuki, a senior managing director.

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