Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Toyota seen keeping annual guidance despite Thai floods

TOKYO (Nov 8): Toyota Motor Corp is set to post a drop in quarterly operating profit on Tuesday as supply shortages from the March earthquake kept output low, while floods in Thailand pose a fresh threat for the rest of the year.

Toyota is also drowning under a stubbornly strong yen, which is making its annual exports of 1.5 million vehicles from Japan unprofitable and less competitive against cars from the likes of Hyundai Motor Co .

Once the world's most envied and profitable automaker, Toyota has also lost its shine against domestic rival Nissan Motor Co . Nissan last week lifted its profit forecasts as it achieves strong sales growth in developed and emerging markets with popular new models.

A Reuters survey of 12 analysts put Toyota's operating profit for July-September period at 101.3 billion yen ($1.3 billion), down 9 percent from the year-earlier quarter.

The focus will be on how executives will account for the uncertainty surrounding the Thai floods, which have forced it to halt work at its three vehicle plants in its Southeast Asian export hub from Oct. 10 at least until Nov. 12. A shortage of parts has also forced it to reduce production in nine other countries including Japan.

The cutbacks happened just as Toyota was starting to ramp up global production from September, working overtime and some weekends to make up for output lost after the March 11 disasters in Japan.

Many analysts expect Toyota to keep its forecasts for the year to March 31, 2012, at 450 billion yen given the uncertainty. Consensus forecasts from a survey of 21 analysts by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S put the profit at 486 billion yen.

As of Nov. 5, the floods have led to a production loss of 69,000 vehicles in Thailand and 22,000 vehicles in Japan.

The supply constraints from the two disasters have hit Toyota's sales and market share and will likely place it behind General Motors Co and Volkswagen AG this year. Toyota is still by far the most valuable, with a market capitalisation of $113 billion.

Toyota must also find a way to keep its commitment of building at least 3 million vehicles annually in the shrinking Japanese market without bleeding profits. It has said it needs the dollar to be at least at 85 yen to break even in Japan. The dollar was trading around 78 yen on Tuesday.

Toyota's shares have fallen 21 percent in the year to date, faring worse than Nissan but better than Honda Motor Co , which are down 4.9 percent and 25 percent, respectively. - Reuters

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