Despite the double whammy of the economic downturn and ongoing safety recalls, Toyota Motor Corp. has made its biggest profit in two years.
The company posted a $2.2 billion profit during the quarter that ended June 30, thanks to cost-cutting measures and a 27% increase in worldwide sales.
The Japanese automaker, which makes the popular Prius and Corolla models, ended the period with $57.3 billion in revenues. That's compared to a loss of $900 million last year over the same three month period, which ended June 30.
Bouyed by jumps in sales in North America, Japan, and other Asian countries, Toyota lifted its sales revenue forecast for the year from $226 billion to $229 billion.
The company's shares jumped 2% on the news, to $74.25.
Buyers have been attracted to the company's various sales incentives, such as zero-percent financing, analysts said. Toyota has offered deals to woo back customers worried about the safety recalls that started last October.
Federal safety regulators have linked 93 deaths to accidents alleged to have been caused by sudden accelation in Toyota vehicles. The automaker has issued more than 11 million recall notices worldwide since last fall when the sudden acceleration issue surfaced.
The automaker has acknowledged that sticky pedal or floor mat interference can cause sudden acceleration, but has denied that electronics play a role.
Because of the issues, Toyota has been the subject of several federal safety investigations and reviews. It has also been deluged with hundreds of lawsuits because of alleged defects.
Toyota has tried to get back into consumers' good graces with incentives of their own, but has also gotten a boost in some markets from government-backed incentives for green vehicles, which have benefited cars like the company's gasoline-electric Prius hybrid.
But these incentives are set to expire in Japan next month.
This "requires our close monitoring," said Takuo Sasaki, a Toyota managing officer, during a conference call on Wednesday.
"Nevertheless, we will do our utmost to reach as many customers with as many vehicles as possible," he said.
With sales rising, the company raised the forecast for the number of cars it will sell for the year by 1% to 7.4 million.
While these numbers are still down significantly from Toyota's pre-recession levels of 9 million vehicles per year, it is still impressive, said Michelle Krebs, senior analyst for the auto website Edmunds.com.
"They are trying a lot of things to win back consumers' trust," she said. "If they learn their lesson, Toyota can come out of this a much stronger company."
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