Toyota Motor Corp., the world’s biggest automaker, said earnings may be reduced by output disruptions following Japan’s earthquake and tsunami last month, which contributed to a record decline in the nation’s auto sales.
“There’s no doubt financial results will be influenced by the earthquake,” President Akio Toyoda told reporters today at company headquarters in Toyota City, Japan, without elaborating. “Ports, industrial complexes and roads are destroyed.”
Carmakers including Toyota, Honda Motor Co. and Nissan Motor Co. halted output after the March 11 disaster damaged factories and knocked out power plants, causing shortages of parts and electricity. Even before the earthquake, Japanese auto sales were set to fall for a seventh month after the government phased out subsidies for fuel-efficient models in September.
The earthquake may cut Toyota’s operating profit in the fiscal year started today by as much as 200 billion yen ($2.4 billion), said Koji Endo, an analyst at Advanced Research Japan in Tokyo. The carmaker has said it lost production of 140,000 units last month due to shortages of electronic parts, rubber and plastics.
“Toyota has more production and affiliates than anyone else in the industry,” said Satoru Takada, an analyst at TIW Inc. in Tokyo. “It will probably take time for Toyota to have a good grasp of how big the damage may be.”
Japan’s industrywide auto sales, excluding minicars, plunged 37 percent last month to 279,389 vehicles, the largest drop for the month since recordkeeping began in 1968, the Japan Automobile Dealers Association said today in Tokyo. Toyota’s sales, excluding Lexus-brand cars, fell 46 percent.
“Consumer confidence is falling all across Japan, not only in the areas hit by the quake,” Takada said. “Sales were on a downward trend to begin with.”
The magnitude-9 temblor off the coast of northeast Japan and the subsequent tsunami left more than 28,000 people dead or missing and destroyed 21 million kilowatts of electrical generating capacity. The nation’s automakers are considering cooperating to save energy through measures such as adjusting production schedules, Toyoda said.
“I would like Toyota to take leadership and help support the nation as much as possible,” Toyoda said.
The maker of Prius and Corolla cars said on February 8 net income might surge to 490 billion yen in the year ended March 31 from 209 billion yen a year earlier. It estimated operating profit at 550 billion yen and said sales may rise 1.3 percent to 19.2 trillion yen.
Toyota’s operating profit may be cut by at least 100 billion yen in the fiscal year ended March 31, Endo said. Any impact on production overseas will further damp earnings, he said earlier this week.
Toyota plans to resume all operations as soon as possible, Toyoda said today. The carmaker resumed output of three models at two factories on March 24, prioritising hybrid models including the Prius gasoline-electric car. The automaker is still keeping 16 car plants in Japan shut.
Toyota may delay the output of at least 500,000 vehicles in Japan because of shortages of parts and electricity, Endo estimated.
Deliveries at Nissan, Japan’s second-largest carmaker, fell 38 percent from a year earlier to 45,700 last month, and sales at Honda, the third-largest, dropped 28 percent to 43,329.
Nissan said it lost 55,000 units of production last month, while Honda will lose 46,600 from March 14 to April 3.
Toyota rose 0.1 percent to 3,355 yen at the 3 p.m. close of trading in Tokyo. The shares have dropped 8.1 percent since the day before the earthquake. Nissan declined 1.2 percent today, and Honda fell 2.4 percent.
Toyota, which has two car-assembly factories in Japan’s northeastern region, will continue to produce in the area, Toyoda said. All of the company’s vehicles at Sendai port were swallowed by the March 11 tsunami, he said.
Toyoda went to Miyagi, the prefecture hardest hit by the disaster, on March 27 and visited dealers, suppliers and factories, according to the company’s website.
The automaker has no plans to revise the global corporate vision it announced last month, Toyoda said today. The plan includes selling half its vehicles in emerging markets and rolling out 10 more hybrid models as part of efforts to make at least 1 trillion yen in operating profit by 2015.-by Masatsugu Horie, Anna Mukai