Toyota projects first operating loss since 1941
NAGOYA, Japan (AP) -- Toyota Motor Corp. projected its first-ever operating loss since it began such reports, acknowledging Monday that its nine-year stretch of global vehicle-sales growth had stalled.
Crashing auto demand, especially in its key U.S. market, and the profit erosion from a surging yen proved too much for Japan's top automaker, which had been booming on the success of its fuel-efficient models, incluading the Camry sedan and Prius gas-electric hybrid.
Gloom dominated the annual news conference by Toyota's president, who in recent years had outlined ambitious expansion plans. This year, Toyota President Katsuaki Watanabe even refused to give a worldwide vehicle sales goal for 2009.
"The tough times are hitting us far faster, wider and deeper than expected," he told reporters at Toyota's Nagoya office. "This is an unprecedented crisis requiring urgent action."
Watanabe also blamed the strong yen, which has risen to 13-year highs against the dollar to about 90 yen recently.
Toyota lowered its net profit forecast to just 50 billion yen ($555 million) for the year through March 2009 -- a tiny fraction of the 1.7 trillion yen it earned the previous fiscal year.
Toyota expects to lose money on an operating basis of 150 billion yen ($1.66 billion) for the fiscal year ending March 2009. Toyota has never reported an operating loss since it began giving such figures in 1941. The only such loss it has had is an internal calculation for the year ending March 1938, a year after the company was founded.
Operating income reflects a company's core business performance. Last fiscal year, Toyota had a whopping operating profit of 2.27 trillion yen.
Toyota also lowered the number of vehicles it expects to sell globally this calendar year to 8.96 million, down 4 percent from a year ago. Earlier this year, Toyota had expected to sell 9.5 million vehicles around the world in 2008.