Toyota hit by supply doubts

City A.M. Reporter
TOYOTA Motors posted a 52 per cent fall in quarterly operating profit yesterday and gave no annual forecasts, as expected, as it struggles to measure the scope of the disruption to production after the 11 March earthquake.

The world’s biggest automaker is facing another tough year as a severe shortage of parts caused by Japan’s biggest earthquake on record hammers production just as it was putting its recall woes behind it.

Toyota has said it expects to return to full production by November or December from less than half of planned volumes now, but has stopped short of specifying how fast it would get there. It denied reports that normal production would come two to three months earlier than planned.

Toyota said its January-March operating profit was 46.1bn yen ($570 million), compared with an average estimate of 94.6bn yen from 17 analysts who revised their numbers after the quake.

Fourth-quarter net profit, which includes earnings made in China, fell 77 per cent to 25.4bn yen.

Among Japan’s top car makers, Toyota is most exposed to disruption, making 38 per cent of its cars at home compared to 25 per cent for Honda Motor and Nissan Motor.

Koichi Ogawa, chief portfolio manager at Daiwa Investments, said: “The focus going ahead for Toyota is what it expects its forecast to be and right now it is very unclear, especially if it can only can operate at 50 per cent capacity between April and June, which will make it hard for it to lift profits.”

“I expect (profits) to recover in the second half and to grow next year, but Toyota needs to rethink its global production strategy in the mid-term.”