Toyota Motor posted a 77 percent fall in quarterly net profit, to 25.4 billion yen, or $314 million, on Wednesday and gave no annual forecasts, as expected, as it struggled to measure the scope of the disruption to production after the March 11 earthquake.
The world’s biggest automaker is facing another tough year, with a severe shortage of parts hammering production just as it was putting its recall problems behind it.
Toyota’s president, Akio Toyoda, said Wednesday the automaker should see a pickup in output beginning in June to 70 percent of volume planned before the quake. It is now operating at less than half capacity. Last month, it forecast a return to full production by November or December.
On Tuesday, Toyota denied a report in The Nikkei newspaper that normal production would come two to three months earlier than planned.
The massive hit to production will almost certainly mean Toyota will fall behind General Motors and possibly Volkswagen to rank third in global vehicle sales this year.
With inventory tight and supply short for popular models like the Prius hybrid, Toyota is losing consumers to rivals like Hyundai Motor, which has been nipping at its heels for the past several years.
Toyota said Wednesday that its operating profit for the January-to-March period — its financial fourth quarter — fell 52 percent, to 46.1 billion yen, or $570 million, compared with an average estimate of 94.6 billion yen from 17 analysts who revised their numbers after the quake, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
For Toyota’s current business year, which ends next March, analysts forecast an average operating profit of 307.5 billion yen, down 34 percent from 468 billion yen last year. Uncertainties over the broken supply chain have yielded a wide range, from a loss of 25 billion yen to a profit of 846 billion yen.
Analysts say the disruption is a temporary one caused by the shortage of supply, not demand, and that Japanese automakers should reverse the trend next business year.
Toyota’s shares have led a fall in Japanese auto stocks since the disaster, losing 11 percent, compared with 9.9 percent at Honda and 5.8 percent at Nissan as of the Tuesday close.
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