TOKYO (AFP) - Japanese car giant Toyota said on Wednesday (May 8) its annual net profit fell by a quarter despite record sales, blaming investment losses, but it forecast an upturn in the year ahead.
The maker of the Camry sedan and Prius hybrid said net profit came in at 1.88 trillion yen (S$23 billion) in the year to March 31, down 24.5 per cent from the year before, which was its best-ever result.
The firm forecast net profit to rise 19.5 per cent in the coming year to 2.25 trillion yen.
Toyota's bottom line for the past year was pushed down by some 294 billion yen in book losses on its investment portfolio.
Sales rose 2.9 per cent to a record 30.23 trillion yen in the last year, leaving an operating profit of 2.47 trillion yen, which was up 2.8 per cent on-year.
For the current year to March 2020, Toyota expects operating profit will increase 3.3 per cent to 2.55 trillion yen with sales forecast to sag 0.7 per cent to 30 trillion yen.
Satoru Takada, an analyst at TIW, a Tokyo-based research and consulting firm, said: "Toyota has cruised steadily, compared with its rivals."
"The firm largely showed a reasonable performance around the world at a time when the global market is slowing down," he said.
But Mr Takada was not so optimistic about the outlook of the auto industry.
Japanese carmakers have enjoyed a heyday in recent years with the North American market steadily recovering from the financial crisis of the late 2000s and China growing into a mammoth market, he noted.
"But the outlook for the two biggest markets is now murky, while material costs are rising," he said.
"Also, they can't expect the one-time impact of US tax cuts, which temporarily boosted their profit before. Tough factors outnumbered positive ones," he told AFP.