Toyota back in the game?

Recent results show strong signs of recovery.

By Melly Alazraki May 9, 2012 3:46PM

Image: A young man admiring a new car © i love images/Cultura/Getty ImagesIt wasn't long ago that Toyota's (TM) problems seemed never ending. After the Japanese carmaker's massive recalls over three years, its troubles were magnified by the earthquake and tsunami disaster in Japan and flooding in Thailand -- all of which caused sales and profits to plunge.

But now, the former No. 1 car company in the world is showing signs of a comeback.


Toyota reported on Wednesday year-end results that stood out. True, income for the year ended in March tumbled 30.5% because of the disasters and a strong yen. But the last quarter showed surprisingly strong results.


In the January to March period, the automaker earned 121 billion yen ($1.5 billion), which was more than four times last year's profit of 25.4 billion yen as the company was able to repair supply lines and ramp up production as well as work on cost-cutting measures.


Sales for the fiscal year totaled 18.58 trillion yen ($232 billion), down 2.2% from the year prior. But sales for the January-March quarter rebounded to 5.7 trillion yen ($71.3 billion), up 23% from 4.6 trillion yen the same period a year ago, according to the AP


Globally, unit sales increased, even in recession-prone Europe and Asia. Compared to recent figures from Ford (F) and General Motors (GM), which were largely affected by slowdown in Europe especially, Toyota's results is that much more impressive.


In addition, the carmaker also gave upbeat forecasts, solidifying the turnaround signals. Toyota said it expects its profit for the year ending March 2013 to more than double to 760 billion yen ($9.5 billion) from 283.6 billion yen last year, helped by new models, including Prius hybrids, Corolla compacts and Lexus sedans, and hopefully a better global economy.

Sales, Toyota said, will increase 18% to 8.7 million vehicles this fiscal year, with North American sales climbing 26% to 2.35 million units.


Toyota President Akio Toyoda acknowledged that "the last fiscal year was extremely challenging." But, he added in prepared statements, "This year, I am determined to show tangible results of all our internal efforts in order to reward our stakeholders who supported us during these difficult times."


Toyota still needs to recoup its market share in North America, where unit sales declined last year. It's doing just that, though. Rising fuel prices have been driving Americans to buy more fuel-efficient cars -- the kind Toyota makes. Already in April, Toyota's market share rose to 15%, from 13.8% a year ago.

Now that its production has recovered, the already existing demand for its vehicles, namely the Prius hybrid, is showing up in the sales. Already, sales are outpacing the company’s initial U.S. target of more than 220,000 Prius cars this year.


But according to senior analyst Jessica Caldwell, as reported by AP, Toyota cannot sit still and needs to come up with new products to face increasing competition from Hyundai, a resurgent GM, which regained the No. 1 spot in 2011, and Volkswagen, the No. 2.

Indeed, Toyota seems to be listening and already achieved some success with products like the redesigned Camry and the latest additions to the Prius family, such as the compact Prius C and larger Prius V.


Toyota's ADR shares climbed more than 3% by Wednesday afternoon. Year to date, they're up 22% as investors anticipated the recovery. Seems they were not disappointed and the Japanese automaker is ready to fight back for its No. 1 spot.

Tags: FgmTM
May 9, 2012 7:25PM

hooray! a multi-billion dollar company is back to gaining more billions of dollars!


toyota may have dipped in the stock market at one point, but millions of americans still own and are buying toyotas. they are one of the most reliable car manufsctureres on the road and have been for over 20 years

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