TOKYO – Japan's Toyota Motor Corp <7203.T> raised its full-year net profit forecast by 2.6 percent to 780 billion yen ($9.7 billion) even after sales in China, the world's biggest autos market, virtually halved following a popular backlash against Japan in a territorial dispute.
July-September net profit more than tripled to 257.9 billion yen on solid vehicle sales in North America and Southeast Asia, beating an average estimate of 228.8 billion yen from six analysts polled by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. A year ago, Japanese manufacturers were still struggling from the aftermath of the March earthquake and tsunami.
Sales at Toyota and its two Chinese joint ventures dropped 49 percent in September from a year earlier and 44 percent in October. Honda's China car sales more than halved last month. But, with about 12 percent of its global sales in China, Toyota has lower exposure there than Nissan and Honda.
Toyota's biggest market is the United States, accounting for close to a quarter of its total vehicle sales, followed by Japan. Toyota's U.S. sales rose 16 percent in October from a year ago, giving it, and its Lexus luxury brand, a 13.9 percent market share, up from 12.3 percent a year ago.
Shares in Toyota, valued at nearly $135 billion - almost as much as Honda, Nissan and Hyundai combined - are up by a quarter this year, easily outpacing Honda's 4.5 percent gain, while Nissan is flat. The benchmark Nikkei share average <.N225> is up almost 7 percent for the year to date.
(Reporting by Yoko Kubota; Editing by Ian Geoghegan)