Toyota Motor Corp. stock has been on fire lately, hitting an all-time record high during Friday trading. At Friday's market closing price, investors are valuing the company at $196 billion, making it the world's ninth most valuable company, and demoting Wal-Mart to number 10 on the list.

Toyota shares are up 4.9 percent this year, while the Japanese market as a whole is down 2.5 percent.

Since mid-2005, Toyota's share price has gone from about 4,000 yen to today's close of 6,420 yen, a 60 percent gain. And analysts are still rating the company a 'buy,' with Deutsche Securities forecasting a 12-month price target of 7,200 yen.

While heavy capital spending has depressed profits and masked excellent sales results, Toyota's aggressive investment in manufacturing facilities worldwide is starting to pay dividends, with last week's earnings report showing a 14 percent jump in profits (helped along by a weak yen).

Currency factors aside, Toyota certainly has momentum working for it. The company's expansion of its manufacturing operations in Europe, North America and Asia, plus strong car and truck offerings in a broad range of market segments, are likely to pay off with strong earnings results for years to come.

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