Toyota Regains Sales Crown

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Toyota Motor Corp. (TM) recaptured the sales crown from General Motors Company (GM) by selling 9.75 million vehicles globally in 2012, which exceeded GM’s sales of 9.29 million vehicles. Germany’s Volkswagen AG (VLKAY) came third with sales of 9.07 million vehicles for the year.

Toyota’s global vehicle sales rose 23% in 2012, while overseas sales improved 19%. Surprisingly, sales in the company’s domestic market surged 35% despite its sluggish economy. Sales of the company’s domestic rival Honda Motor Co. (HMC) grew 19% to 3.82 million vehicles in the year.

Toyota’s victory can be attributed to its impressive product lineups and marketing initiatives. The automaker lost its No.1 position to GM in 2011 after gaining the title from GM in 2008. The loss of the crown was driven by its declining reputation due to a series of safety recalls as well as a negative impact from natural disasters in Japan and Thailand in 2011.

However, Toyota vowed to regain the top position by increasing its dependence on the non-U.S. markets, especially the high growth emerging markets. In 2012, the company reported an impressive 26.6% jump in sales to 2.08 million vehicles in the U.S. driven by strong sales across its lineups as it recouped the dealer lots with new vehicles.

Toyota plans to sell 9.91 million vehicles globally  this year, reflecting an estimated rise of 1.6% from 2012. It aims to generate 50% of global sales from the emerging markets by 2015, up from 45% presently. These would also help the automaker face burgeoning automakers in the markets such as Korea’s Hyundai Motor apart from Volkswagen.

Toyota, a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) stock, saw more than a threefold increase in profits to ¥257.92 billion ($3.28 billion) or ¥81.44 ($1.04) per share in the second quarter of fiscal year ended September 30, 2012 from ¥80.42 billion or ¥25.65 in the same quarter of prior fiscal year.

The increase in profits can be attributed to strong demand for Toyota vehicles as well as positive impact from the company’s cost control measures. However, profits were lower than the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $1.62 per share.

Revenues in the quarter grew 18.2% to ¥5.41 trillion ($68.75 billion) on a 14.9% rise in sales volume to 2.16 million units. Vehicle sales increased in all the regions, except Europe. Operating income more then quadrupled to ¥340.61 billion ($4.33 billion) from ¥75.39 billion in the second quarter of previous fiscal year.

However, Toyota projected lower consolidated vehicles sales of 8.75 million units for fiscal 2013 ending March 31, 2013, down 50 thousand units from the prior guidance. The automaker also lowered its consolidated revenues outlook to ¥21.30 trillion (up 14.6% from fiscal 2012) from the prior guidance of ¥22.00 trillion. The downward revision of sales outlook was based on difficulties in Chinese and European markets.

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