TOKYO — In the biggest sign yet of a strong recovery for Toyota, the Japanese automaker raised its forecast for full-year net profit to ¥780 billion Monday, shrugging off a sales decline in China brought about by a territorial spat between the two countries.
Toyota was briefly the world’s largest automaker by sales in 2008, before the global financial crisis hit home. But after difficult years involving recalls and natural disasters, Toyota ceded that crown to General Motors. More recently, analysts worried that falling sales in China, the biggest auto market in the world, would weigh on Toyota’s bottom line.
But the numbers unveiled Monday, including the forecast for a $9.7 billion profit, suggest Toyota is making a comeback. Net profit more than tripled to ¥257.9 billion in the July-to-September quarter, compared with that of a year earlier, helped by strong sales in North America, where Toyota has been regaining market share. Toyota and its group companies sold 7.4 million vehicles in the first nine months of 2012, beating General Motors and Volkswagen.
Toyota’s raised net profit forecast for the full year through March was 2.6 percent higher than a previous estimate. But reflecting lower sales in China, the automaker pared back its outlook for full-year production to 8.75 million vehicles from 8.8 million.
Toyota has been less exposed than its peers to the fallout from Japan’s drawn-out territorial spat with China, partly because it has been slow to expand its sales in that country. Boycotts by Chinese consumers of Japanese brands have led Japanese exporters to re-evaluate their sales plans in a once-promising market.
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