Toyota Motor reportedly has booked its smallest quarterly profit in nine years as the coronavirus pandemic halved its car sales and nearly wiped out its bottom line.
Reuters noted analysts had expected a loss while comments from a company spokesman on a faster than expected sales recovery also provided support to a rise in the share price on Thursday (6 August).
Nonetheless, operating profit plunged 98% to JPY13.9bn (US$131.73m) for the fiscal first quarter ended 30 June, better than a consensus estimate for a loss of JPY179bn drawn from a Refinitiv poll of seven analysts cited by Reuters.
Toyota reiterated its annual operating profit forecast of JPY500bn, its weakest in nine years, arguing coronavirus could still hurt its brighter sales outlook.
“The pace of recovery in a number of regions has been faster than we had initially forecast,” Toyota spokesman Ryo Sakai told Reuters.
“But the virus situation continues to place many uncertainties on the business outlook … and we see a possibility that our forecast could change.”
Toyota expects global retail sales of 9.1m cars this year, also its lowest in nine years, the news agency said. That would mark a 13% decline from 10.46m but was an improvement on a previous outlook for a 15% drop.
Toyota expects to take the most serious hit in North America, its biggest market, accounting for about a quarter of its global sales, and where it sees an annual sales drop of 14%.
A 62% fall in the region during the first quarter led to a 50% slump in consolidated global sales to 1.16m units.
Demand in China recovered faster than elsewhere as the tightly controlled state has largely beaten back the pandemic and reopened its economy.
Toyota expects global sales to gradually improve to the end of December, returning to normal in January-March 2021 to be up 5% year on year, Reuters added.