Toyota operating profit growth to drop this year on revenue slip

Several 2002 Toyota Camrys are visible at Bredemann Toyota August 8, 2002 in Park Ridge, Illinois.

Tim Boyle | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Toyota Motor forecast lower growth in operating profit for the current year on an expected drop in revenue and weaker vehicle sales in Japan and North America, underscoring the hard task ahead as it gears up to face a rapidly shifting industry.

Japan’s largest automaker said it expects profit to rise 3.3 percent to 2.55 trillion yen ($23.20 billion) in the year to March 2020, slightly lower than the 2.61 trillion yen average of 23 analyst estimates compiled by Refinitiv and compared to last year’s 20 percent jump.

While it forecast global group retail sales at a record 10.74 million vehicles for the current year, compared with 10.6 million in the previous year, Japan sales were seen down 1.2 percent and North American sales down 1.6 percent.

Net revenue was forecast to slip to 30 trillion yen from 30.2 trillion yen.

Toyota, like its rivals, is facing stiff competition as ride-sharing technology and the race to develop self-driving cars has caused rapid — and costly — disruption to the auto industry.

“We still weren’t able to improve our costs enough last year,” CFO Koji Kobayashi told reporters. “We need to work to find new ways to cut costs this year.”

Toyota has recently outlined plans to offer automakers and auto suppliers royalty-free access to nearly 24,000 electrified vehicle technologies patented by it.

In the last 20 years, Toyota has managed to dominate the global market for hybrid cars by constantly improving and lowering the cost of the technology it pioneered in its Prius model — and keeping this expertise a closely guarded secret.

Now, it says it aims to use partnerships to cut by as much as half the outlays for expanded electric and hybrid vehicle components production in the United States, China, and Japan.

Toyota’s operating profit forecast is based on the assumption that the yen will trade around 110 to the U.S. dollar in the current financial year, compared with 111 yen in the year just ended.

The company also said it would buy back 300 billion yen worth of its shares through September.

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