Hino Motors group net profit plunged 89.8% to JPY594m (US$7.8m) in its April to September 2011 fiscal half year due largely to adverse effects of the March earthquake and tsunami.

The truck and bus production arm of Toyota Motor told Kyodo News it managed to post a half-year net profit despite its earlier forecast of a JPY3bn ($39.6m) loss, thanks to solid demand in Asia, recovered sales from around July in Japan and cost-cutting efforts.

Its half-year group sales fell 5.0% to JPY575.67bn ($7.6bn) while operating profit dropped 9.2% to JPY14.91bn ($196.6m).

The automaker said it would pursue further cost reductions to counter the yen’s strength. Hino president Yoshio Shirai said the company also hoped to ”secure profits by lifting vehicle prices slightly” in order to help cover higher raw materials costs.

For the full fiscal 2011 to 31 March, 2012, Hino revised downward its earlier sales forecast of 1.35 trillion yen to JPY1.32 trillion ($17.4bn), up 6.2% year on year.

Hino left unchanged its operating profit forecast for the current business year at JPY35bn ($461.5bn), up 21.1%, with a group net profit estimate also intact at JPY12bn ($158.2m), a reversal from a year-earlier loss of JPY10.04bn ($132.4bn).