Toyota to post big loss for 1Q as March earthquake, tsunami takes toll on car production

TOKYO – Toyota’s first quarter results, expected Tuesday, are likely to be glum as the Japanese automaker has already warned first half profit will be minimal due to production disruptions from the March quake.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR: Like other Japanese manufacturers, Toyota Motor Corp. has been battered by shortages of parts after an earthquake and tsunami damaged key suppliers in northeastern Japan. That meant it made and sold fewer cars than normal.

Toyota is forecasting a 280 billion yen ($3.6 billion) profit for the fiscal year through March 2012, but only 10 billion yen ($128 million) of that is expected in the first half. A significant loss is likely for the April-June fiscal first quarter.

The maker of the Prius hybrid and Camry sedan is increasingly counting on robust sales in growing markets such as China, India and Southeast Asia to lift its bottom line, but a complete recovery isn’t expected until late this year.

WHY IT MATTERS: Toyota is expected to lose its spot as the world’s top-selling automaker to General Motors Co. this year, partly because of damage from the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

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Toyota is expecting to sell 7.24 million vehicles for the fiscal year through March 2012, down from 7.31 million vehicles the previous year, although it may revise the projection upward. For the January-March period, Toyota sold 1.79 million vehicles worldwide – fewer than the 2.22 million vehicles GM sold.

Toyota says it is more intent on delivering good products to customers, not on being No. 1. But the symbolic dethroning follows a battering the brand has taken in recent years over massive global recalls.

Toyota is also fighting a surging yen, which erodes the value of overseas earnings. It faces uncertainty about the electricity supply after the disaster sent several reactors at a nuclear plant into meltdown, and safety worries have led to the shutdown of another plant.

Japanese automakers are producing vehicles during the weekend and taking Thursday and Friday off to even out power demand and prevent blackouts.

WHAT’S EXPECTED: A FactSet survey of analysts forecasts Toyota to report a loss of 93 billion yen ($1.2 billion) for the fiscal first quarter.

LAST YEAR’S QUARTER: Toyota booked a net profit of 190.47 billion yen for April-June last year, an improvement from the red ink the previous year when the global recession crushed car sales.


Yuri Kageyama can be reached at 杭州桑拿按摩论坛twitter杭州龙凤/yurikageyama