Toyota raises outlook, closes in on record profit with strong U.S. sales

TOKYO Wed Nov 6, 2013 1:28am EST

TOKYO Nov 6 (Reuters) - Toyota Motor Corp raised its annual net profit forecast by 13 percent on Wednesday, backed by a weaker yen that makes exports more profitable and by solid vehicle sales in the United States, its biggest market.

The world's best-selling carmaker now expects 1.67 trillion yen ($16.95 billion) in net profit for the year ending in March 2014, compared to a previous forecast of 1.48 trillion yen.

That is just short of the record net profit of 1.72 trillion yen Toyota booked in the year ended March 2008, and compares with an average forecast of 1.79 trillion yen in a Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S survey of 23 analysts.

The company's first-half net profit rose 83 percent to 1.0 trillion yen.

Toyota, which is the most export-reliant among Japan's three big carmakers, has benefited the most from a weakening yen that boosts profits both from exports and from converting money made overseas back into yen.

U.S. sales in July-September for Toyota, the third-biggest carmaker in that country, rose 12.2 percent from a year ago to 589,390 vehicles, helped by strong sales of the redesigned Corolla compact and the Lexus IS. It outperformed industry-wide vehicle sales that increased 8.9 percent year-on-year.

Toyota sold the most number of cars among automakers worldwide in January-September, beating General Motors Co and Volkswagen AG.

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