* Operating profit for FY 2012/13 seen at 1.26 tln yen
* Toyota likely met mid-term profit and margin goal in FY
* Toyota not building new plants for three years
By Yoko Kubota
TOKYO, May 8 Toyota Motor Corp refuses
to be tempted away from its low-risk growth strategy, even as
the world's bestselling carmaker is likely to show that it met
its mid-term profit goals in the year ended March, aided by the
Toyota is expected to post on Wednesday an annual operating
profit of 1.26 trillion yen ($12.69 billion) according to
Thomson Reuters StarMine's SmartEstimates, with an operating
margin of about 5.6 percent. SmartEstimates place emphasis on
timely forecasts by top-rated analysts.
That would mean the company has achieved the target
President Akio Toyoda set two years ago: to make 1 trillion yen
in annual operating profit, and do so with a 5 percent margin.
Its Japanese manufacturing arm is also likely to post a profit
for the first time in five years.
For Toyoda, mindful of lessons learned from huge losses run
up in 2008 after a period of boom and rapid expansion, high
profits are no reason to launch into a building programme - even
as some rivals do exactly that.
"I became painfully aware that the most important thing is
to keep growing at a sustainable pace. Expanding vehicle volume
does not equate with growth, because fixed costs also increase,"
the 57-year-old grandson of the founder of Toyota's automotive
business said in March. "I want this year to think about what
competitiveness really means for Toyota."
Since Toyoda took helm in 2009, when profit margins were
thin, the automaker has focused on cutting costs and improving
Evidence of Toyoda's caution is his fresh policy to build no
new factories for the next three years, a sharp contrast with
Honda Motor Co which is rapidly adding to its
production power around the world.
RECORD SALES EXPECTED
Many analysts say Toyota will remain competitive.
"Toyota will have enough capacity. It could see some
opportunity losses such as in volume and market share, but its
priority is profitability," said Koji Endo, an auto analyst at
Despite building no new plants Toyota, which currently has
an annual production capacity of around 9 million vehicles, will
still be able to make more cars.
It will stick with pre-existing plans to build new factories
such as in Thailand and Indonesia and will also add capacity at
plants already running, for example at its Kentucky plant in the
Toyota expects another year of record group sales in 2013,
reaching 9.91 million vehicles. It could become the first
carmaker in history to sell more than 10 million vehicles a
For the financial year to end-March 2014, analysts estimate
2 trillion yen in operating profit, nearing its record from five
years ago, helped by the yen that has weakened by around
15 percent against the dollar since January. Toyota exports
about 60 percent of its Japan-made vehicles.
After recovering from a damaging safety recall in 2010 and a
huge earthquake in 2011 in Japan that disrupted supply chains,
Toyota booked record group-wide sales of 9.7 million vehicles in
2012, beating General Motors Co and Volkswagen AG
On Wednesday, Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd, which
makes Subaru cars, is likely to book record annual operating
profit of 120 billion yen for the year ended in March, more than
double last year's figure. The company is set to announce a plan
to expand capacity in the United States, its biggest market.