Toyota 9-month profit stronger-than-expected image

Toyota Motor Corp. on Tuesday reported a stronger-than-expected quarterly operating profit. The Japanese automaker said its nine-month net profit fell 57.5 percent to 162 billion yen ($2.12 billion), blaming the continued impact of the March 11 disaster, Thai floods and a strong yen.

However, showing confidence in its ability to bounce back, the manufacturer of the Prius gas-electric hybrid, Lexus luxury models and the Camry sedan raised its annual profit forecast to 200 billion yen ($2.6 billion) from 180 billion yen ($2.3 billion).

Toshiyuki Kanayama, senior market analyst at Monex Securities, said the revised profit guidance was a bit of a disappointment.

“But the market is looking at the next financial year. The key for Toyota shares will be whether profit (next year) will rise to around 800 billion yen.”

“They have many new cars coming, including the Lexus GS series, and they will ramp up production as much as possible,” said Kunihiko Shiohara, a Tokyo-based auto analyst at Credit Suisse Group AG.

“Toyota’s new Camry has been leading sales in the U.S. from the end of last year.”

Last year was tough for Japanese automakers as the earthquake and tsunami in northeastern Japan devastated key suppliers. The flooding in Thailand in late 2011 hit them with new supply problems just as they were starting to recover from the March disaster.

Toyota confirmed last month that its world group sales fell below the eight million mark in 2011, losing the firm its number one spot in the global carmakers’ league.

Total sales were 7.95 million units worldwide, down six percent, Toyota said.