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Toyota profits jump 32% on overseas sales

Toyota Motor Corporation has posted a 32% jump in first-quarter operating profit as powerful sales abroad helped the carmaker offset losses from a weaker US dollar.

The Japanese manufacturer, which last year overtook Ford Motor Company as the world’s biggest car seller behind General Motors, is cruising ahead of rivals.

Profits rose in every region during April-June as it stayed on track to slash annual costs by $1.8bn (£0.989bn). Toyota is already far more efficient than most rivals, having earned $1,570 (£863) for every car it sold last year, against around $440 (£242) for GM.

“We are aiming to match the previous term’s profits this year even though we booked 100 billion yen (£496m) of one-off pension-related gains last year,” says Takeshi Suzuki, senior managing director in charge of finances.

Operating profit at Toyota, the world’s most valuable auto maker with a market capitalisation of $143.5bn (£79bn), was 448.62 billion yen (£2.23bn) for the first quarter ended June 30, compared with 340.77bn yen (£1.69bn) in the year earlier period. Net profit rose 29% to 286.62bn yen (£1.42bn) as sales climbed 10.2% to 4.510 trillion yen (£0.022bn).

Firm overseas sales also helped Japanese rivals Nissan and Honda raise profits in the quarter, but to a lesser degree. Given the faster-than-expected sales growth, Toyota raised its 2004/05 global sales forecast by 2.6% to 7.2m vehicles for the group, which includes minicar unit Daihatsu Motor Co. and truck maker Hino Motors Ltd.

Both Daihatsu and Hino Motors are picking up sales in the wake of a freefall in demand for vehicles from Mitsubishi Motors Corp, which has been mired in a recall scandal. Toyota kept its exchange rate assumptions unchanged for the year, also expecting the euro to average 125 yen.

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