Toyota reliance on U.S. deepens as emerging markets falter

Tue Aug 5, 2014 6:32am EDT
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By Yoko Kubota

TOKYO (Reuters) - Toyota Motor Corp's (7203.T: Quote) reliance on the U.S. market to drive record profits is deepening this year, its latest outlook showed, with strong sales of refurbished SUVs and Camry sedans expected to offset weakness in Thailand and other emerging markets.

The world's best-selling automaker, which analysts say could be overtaken this year by German rival Volkswagen AG (VOWG_p.DE: Quote) in global auto sales, also said it would stick to utilising existing plants to maximum capacity before investing in new factories.

Toyota on Tuesday posted 692.7 billion yen ($6.76 billion) in April-June operating profit, up 4.4 percent year-on-year and its best quarter ever with solid U.S. sales, cost cuts and a weaker yen bolstering profits.

That exceeded the 637.3 billion yen mean estimate of 13 analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

North American operating profit rose 45 percent to 149.7 billion yen, surpassing Asia excluding Japan, which posted far more modest profit growth of 5.6 percent to 110.3 billion yen.

"Conditions in Thailand, India, Brazil and other emerging markets are weak," Managing Officer Koki Konishi told an earnings briefing.

"But we're trying our best to get an additional 50,000 vehicles out of Japan to offset some of that, and to reach around 2.3 million in the U.S.," he said, referring to Toyota's 2014 calendar year sales targets.

For 2014, the company trimmed its global group-wide sales forecast to 10.22 million vehicles, a reduction of 110,000 vehicles. The Toyota group includes Daihatsu Motor Co 7262.T and Hino Motors (7205.T: Quote).   Continued...

A Toyota logo is seen on a car inside a showroom at a Toyota dealership in Warsaw April 11, 2014. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel