Toyota hikes profit forecast 54%, shrugs off global chip supply issues

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TOKYO – Motor on Wednesday (Feb 10) jacked up its full-year earnings by a bigger-than-expected 54 per cent to a record US$19 billion (S$25.2 billion), raising its vehicle sales target as demand led by China rebounds from a coronavirus pandemic-induced slump.

Unlike other automakers, including Japanese peers Nissan Motor and Honda Motor, that have had to cut production because of semiconductor shortages, the world’s biggest automaker said it is raising output.

Shares in Toyota, the world’s biggest automaker by vehicle sales, rose 2.3 per cent after the new forecasts were released.

The automobile industry has been grappling with a shortage since the end of last year, which has in some cases been exacerbated by the former U.S. administration’s sanctions on Chinese chip factories.

But the maker of the RAV4 SUV crossover and the Prius gasoline hybrid said it expects to sell 9.73 million vehicles this year, up 3.3 per cent from a previous forecast of 9.42 million, if down from last year’s 10.46 million.

“For the near term, we do not see any decrease in production volume due to the chip shortage, but we do see risks of a chip shortage,” said chief financial officer Kenta Kon, speaking during a briefing.

“We hear voices saying that chip shortage might continue until summer. But maybe it will not continue until then and it might resolve (itself) at an earlier stage.”

For the fiscal year ending March 31, Toyota now expects a record operating of 2 trillion yen (S$25.36 billion), far higher than an earlier prediction of 1.3 trillion yen, and well above an average 1.542 trillion yen profit forecast based on predictions from 23 analysts, Refinitiv data shows.

It now expects the yen to trade at 105 yen against the US dollar, versus a previous forecast of 106 yen.

Toyota said operating profit rose to 987.9 billion yen in the three months ended Dec 31. This easily beat an estimated average of 565.51 billion yen profit from nine analysts.

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