TOKYO: Toyota Motor Corp on Thursday posted a surprise 22% rise in third-quarter operating profit, as a weaker yen and higher sales volumes helped the Japanese automaker overcome a jolt from soaring raw-materials costs.
Operating profit for the three months ended Dec. 31 was 956.7 billion yen ($7.28 billion). That beat the average 764.54 billion yen profit estimated by 10 analysts, according to Refinitiv data. In the same period a year earlier, Toyota reported a 784.4 billion yen profit.
Like many global manufacturers, the world's largest automaker is still grappling with the continued fall-out from semiconductor shortage and the pain from rising costs.
The Prius maker said it was striving to quickly evaluate alternative semiconductors and take other measures to secure stable procurement of chips, according to a presentation that accompanied the results.
While it trimmed its annual production target by about 1%, to around 9.1 million vehicles, it stuck to its forecast for annual profit of 2.4 trillion yen for the year to end-March.
The automaker is likely to comfortably exceed that forecast, given that it has now delivered 2.1 trillion yen in the first nine months of the year, said Koji Endo, senior analyst at SBI Securities.
"No matter how you look it, the profit won't fall that short of the forecast."
Toyota benefited from a plunge in the yen in October last year. The Japanese currency hit a 32-year low of 151.94 to the dollar on Oct. 21, prompting authorities to intervene.
Vehicle sales rose across all major regions, with North America, its biggest market, showing the strongest growth of 16%, double the overall average of 8% gain.
As the prolonged global shortage of auto chips enters its third year, some car makers are suffering more than others.
Ford Motor Co last week blamed a 100,000 vehicle shortfall in its fourth-quarter volume mostly on the inability to obtain enough chips.
Tesla Inc, which has been recognised for handling the chip shortage better than most automakers, said last October it was able to address some chip issues by rewriting its software to use different or fewer chips.
Toyota said last month its chief executive, Akio Toyoda, would step down in April as head of the company his grandfather founded. He will hand over to the leader of Toyota's Lexus luxury brand as the shift to electric vehicles challenges the car giant.
Toyota had previously expected to manufacture 9.7 million cars this fiscal year but lowered the target to 9.2 million in November and by another 100,000 cars on Thursday.
Toyota shares, which were down 0.4% just before the release of the earnings, reversed losses immediately after and were up 0.6% at 1,909 yen by 0434 GMT. - Reuters