Toyota quadruples April-December profit, ups forecast

Toyota said Tuesday that its net profit quadrupled for the nine months to December as the Japanese auto giant revised upward its full-year profit and sales forecast.

The company said it earned 648.2 billion yen ($7.0 billion) for the period, up from 162.5 billion yen a year earlier, underscoring its recovery from 2011 when automakers were pounded by Japan's quake-tsunami disaster.

Operating income soared to 818.5 billion yen from 117.1 billion yen a year earlier, which "reflects our increased vehicle sales and the progress we are making with our profit improvement activities", said Toyota Senior Managing Officer Takahiko Ijichi.

Sales in the period jumped 26 percent to 16.2 trillion yen, it said.

Toyota, Japan's biggest automaker, also upped its net profit forecast for the fiscal year through March to 860 billion yen from an earlier estimate of 780 billion yen.

Global vehicle sales in the year were on track to hit 8.85 million units, up from an earlier forecast of 8.75 million units, the automaker said, citing stronger overseas demand centred in the North American market.

Toyota also cited a weakening yen for its upgraded forecast.

Toyota's results come after Japan's three biggest automakers -- Toyota, Nissan and Honda -- last month posted record sales for 2012.

The figures confirmed that Toyota recaptured the world's biggest automaker crown from General Motors, a title it lost in 2011.