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Toyota forecasts rebound to record $18.8b profit

Toyota has aggressively streamlined production, moved some manufacturing out of high-cost Japan, and strengthened its lineup.

EPA/file

Toyota has aggressively streamlined production, moved some manufacturing out of high-cost Japan, and strengthened its lineup.

TOKYO — After years of setbacks, Toyota is predicting its largest-ever annual profit.

The world’s best-selling automaker said Tuesday that it expected to post $18.8 billion in net profit for the fiscal year ending in March, as a weaker yen and strong sales helped drive earnings. That is up from an earlier forecast and above the previous high six years ago before the global financial crisis.

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Still, the mood at Toyota’s Tokyo office on Tuesday was less than joyous, with executives cautious. Recent global market jitters, driven by fears of the effects of a pullback in US monetary stimulus, were especially worrying, they said.

“The outlook, especially for emerging markets, is very unclear,” the company’s managing officer, Takuo Sasaki, said during a press conference in Tokyo.

After the financial crisis, the carmaker was hurt by worldwide recalls; it recalled more than 10 million of vehicles in 2009 and 2010 over problems with unintended acceleration. Then Toyota faced the devastating 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

Toyota has aggressively streamlined production, moved some manufacturing out of high-cost Japan, and strengthened its lineup, especially in its luxury Lexus unit.

Net profit for the three months through December jumped from the previous year. Sales for the quarter rose 24 percent.

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