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Toyota Motor profit up on strong sales

Toyota Motor says its net profit in the three months to December rose 3.5% to 296.53 billion yen (£1.51bn) on strong sales in all regions and cost-cutting.

Pre-tax profit was up 4.1% from a year earlier at 447.19 billion yen (£2.28bn) while operating profit climbed 5.3% to 422.9 billion yen (£2.16bn) on sales up 5.9%.

"During the third quarter, we exceeded our calendar-year sales targets in every region," Toyota Motor executive vice president Ryuji Araki said in a statement.

"At the same time, we were able to offset negative effects of currency fluctuations and other factors by implementing initiatives aimed at further growth, including cost reduction and improved operational efforts."

Toyota said it had revised its global sales target for the year to March 2005 to 7.29 million vehicles from 7.22 million.

For 2004 as a whole, Toyota-brand cars, excluding mini-vehicles, had a record 44.4% market share in Japan.

In Europe, sales jumped 14.3% to 249,275, bringing 2004 sales to 916,000 for an eighth consecutive annual record.

European revenue jumped 22.8% to 631.8 billion yen (£3.2bn) and operating profit rose 7.7% in the December quarter.

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