Special Coverage

Toyota's Safety Crisis

Toyota Motor Corp. says its net revenues, operating income and net income all rose during its fiscal third quarter and has revised its sales forecast for the full year upward, which it credits to an improving sales outlook.

The news comes on top of Toyota’s recalls in the U.S. and select overseas markets for sticky accelerator pedals. In the U.S., Toyota also is recalling vehicles whose accelerator pedals may become stuck on floor mats.

Toyota says it currently is estimating the cost of the recalls to have a negative ¥100 billion ($1.1 billion) impact on its full-year earnings, as well as a loss of 100,000 units in the period, 80,000 of which are seen in North America. Toyota’s current fiscal year ends March 31.

“The estimation was made by soliciting opinions and views from those at the forefront of sales,” TMC Managing Officer Takuo Sasaki says in a conference call with financial analysts.

“The actual impact may be potentially different from those assumptions,” Sasaki says when questioned on the 100,000-unit figure, which many analysts think is too low.

A negative financial impact relating to a problem with the Prius hybrid-electric vehicle’s antilock braking system has not been factored into Toyota’s profit outlook, says TMC Managing Officer Takuo Sasaki, responsible for finance and accounting.

Ward’s first reported yesterday that Toyota found the Prius’ ABS to be overly sensitive, leading to complaints of a loss of braking power.

For the third quarter, Toyota says net revenue rose 10.2% vs. year-ago to ¥5.3 trillion ($58.4 billion).

Toyota’s operating red ink eased a bit – due to improving vehicle sales and a reduction in variable and fixed costs – to a loss of ¥189.1 billion ($2.1 billion), compared with a loss of ¥360.6 billion ($4.0 billion) in like-2009.

A net profit of ¥153.2 billion ($1.7 billion) was posted, compared with prior-year’s ¥164.7 billion ($1.8 billion).

Toyota sold 2.07 million vehicles worldwide in the fiscal third quarter on a consolidated basis, up 227,000 from year-ago. Sasaki credited the increase to strong sales of hybrids, such as the Prius and Lexus HS 250h.

Some 642,000 units of the 2.07 million were sold in North America, an improvement of 121,000 over like-2009.

Toyota revised its full-year sales forecast upward, by 150,000 units, to 7.18 million, compared with. 7.03 million in its earlier forecast, due to improvements in global markets.

The auto maker sold 7.57 million vehicles in the prior fiscal year.

Toyota also is hiking its forecast for net revenues and operating income. It now expects to be in the black in net income, also due to improving sales and cost-reduction efforts.

The auto maker is calling for net revenues of ¥18.5 trillion ($204.1 billion), and operating income losses of ¥20 billion ($220.7 million) vs. ¥350 billion ($3.9 billion) of an earlier forecast. Net income is seen rising to ¥80 billion ($882.7 million) from a forecasted loss of ¥200 billion ($2.2 billion).

In fiscal 2009, Toyota posted a loss of ¥461 billion ($5.1 billion) in operating income, its first such loss in company history.

cschweinsberg@wardsauto.com