Toyota raises annual forecast after it quadruples its quarterly profit

But coronavirus threatens operations in China

TOKYO — Japan's top automaker Toyota raised its annual forecast Thursday after cost cuts and healthy sales quadrupled quarterly profits from the previous year.

As with other businesses that have operations in China, the threat of the virus outbreak remains.

Toyota has halted production at all its 12 plants in China, including four vehicle assembly plants.

The closure continues through Sunday, with a decision on future action coming Monday, according to Toyota.

Toyota reported October-December profit of 738 billion yen ($6.7 billion), up from 181 billion yen the previous year. Quarterly sales slipped 3% to 7.5 trillion yen ($68.6 billion).

The manufacturer of the Prius hybrid, Corolla compact and Lexus luxury models expects a profit through its fiscal year ending in March 2020 of 2.35 trillion yen ($21 billion).

It had earlier projected a 2.15 trillion yen ($20 billion) profit. Its annual profit for the previous fiscal year totaled 1.88 trillion yen.

Executive Vice President Didier Leroy said Toyota's global vehicle sales will grow in a balanced way through all major regions.

The automaker plans to add model offerings with what he called “advanced technologies,” such as hybrids, which run on both gasoline engine and electric motor to offer good mileage.

Toyota's corporate culture promotes having “a fighting spirit,” the ability to do what's right, not just pleasing bosses, fairness, clear objectives and staying connected with one's team, Leroy said.

While falling short of German rival Volkswagen AG in recent years, Toyota has marked new record global vehicle sales for the company for the last four years straight, selling 10.74 million vehicles around the world in 2019.

An unfavorable exchange rate hurts Japanese exporters like Toyota, and Subaru and Mazda earnings suffered for it, but the damage to Toyota was not expected to be as bad this fiscal year as it was last year, according to the company based in Toyota city, Aichi prefecture.

Last month, Toyota announced it was creating a “woven city” near Mount Fuji, powered by hydrogen fuel cells and featuring robotics, personal-mobility services and cars connected to the internet.

Toyota has been inviting researchers and business partners to take part in the project, set to open early next year, where people live to test out various technology.

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