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Toyota says April-June profit soars, ups forecast

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Toyota said Friday net profit almost doubled to a record $5.64 billion for the three months to June, and said it was on track to produce over 10 million vehicles worldwide this year.

The world's biggest automaker has ramped up its bid to tap emerging markets while key US demand has also been on the upswing, helping Toyota to book ever-increasing profits over the last year.

The Camry and Corolla maker tripled its net profit in the past fiscal year with a slump in the yen helping Japanese manufacturers' bottom line.

The yen, which has lost about 20 percent of its value on the dollar since November, has boosted Japanese firms' competitiveness overseas and jacked up the value of their repatriated foreign income.

However Toyota's domestic rivals Nissan and Honda posted mixed results in the quarter, with Honda's earnings slipping 7.0 percent as it hiked spending on a major expansion, while Nissan's net profit jumped 14 percent in the April-June quarter.

Nissan, Japan's number-two automaker, said sales in North America soared, but it also warned that demand in China, the world's biggest car market, tumbled while recession-riddled Europe was also weak.

On Friday, Toyota said it also saw its European market decline in the quarter as Asian sales slipped.

But North America helped make up the shortfall along with strong demand in emerging markets in Central and South America as well as Africa, it added.

Toyota said it earned 562.19 billion yen ($5.64 billion) in the quarter on sales of 6.25 trillion yen, which were up 13.7 percent from a year earlier.

Profit "increased due to the impact of foreign exchange rates and our global efforts for profit improvement, through cost reduction activities," Managing Officer Takuo Sasaki said in a statement.

Looking forward, Toyota said it expected to pump out a record 10.12 million vehicles this calendar year, after it overtook General Motors in 2012 to regain the title of world's biggest automaker.

Toyota did not specifically address China, but sales in the country were dented in the wake of a flare-up in a territorial dispute between Tokyo and Beijing last year which sparked a consumer boycott of Japanese brands in China.

Despite the China troubles, Japanese industry has benefited from the big-spending and easy-money policies of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, with huge monetary easing measures from the premier's hand-picked team at the Bank of Japan helping push down the yen.

The nation's manufacturers are eyeing a pickup in domestic demand ahead of planned sales tax hikes that would double the rate to 10 percent over the next couple of years. However, Abe's government is mulling whether to go ahead with the plan amid fears it could hurt his economy-boosting efforts.

Also Friday, Toyota said it expects a net profit of 1.48 trillion yen for the fiscal year to March on sales of 24 trillion yen.

That was up from an earlier forecast of a 1.37 trillion yen profit on sales of 23.5 trillion yen.

Toyota shares closed up 3.37 percent to 6,430 yen in Tokyo on Friday before its results were released.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130802/toyota-says-april-june-profit-soars-ups-forecast-1