Toyota Motor Corp reported a 52 percent drop in quarterly operating profit as it suffered from supply disruptions as a result of the March 11 earthquake in Japan. The world's biggest automaker is facing another tough year ahead as a severe shortage of parts caused by Japan's biggest earthquake on record hammers production just as it was putting its recall woes behind it.
-- January-March op profit down 51.6 pct year on year
-- Profit forecast possible by mid-June
-- Quake cuts op profit by 110 bln yen
-- Says Japan, overseas output to increase in June
KOICHI OGAWA, CHIEF PORTFOLIO MANAGER AT DAIWA SB INVESTMENTS
The focus going ahead for Toyota is what they expect their forecast to be and right now it is very unclear, especially if they can only can operate at 50 percent capacity between April and June, which will make it hard for them to lift profits.
I expect (profits) to recover in the second half and to grow next year, but looking ahead, Toyota's production rate in Japan is high...and with energy and electricity costs in Japan expected to rise, I think it will be necessary for them to rethink their global production strategy in the mid-term.
AHN YOUNG-HEE, FUND MANAGER AT KTB ASSET MANAGEMENT, SEOUL
I expect Japanese carmakers to recover after their production is normalized late this year as planned. There is no denying that Hyundai and Kia have improved their brand recognition in the U.S. market, as their Japanese rivals were struggling from the recall crisis. Not only the recall, but Japan's earthquake has benefited South Korean carmakers. But the quake effect will be temporary and Japanese carmakers will gain back market share.
TSUYOSHI SEGAWA, EQUITY STRATEGIST AT MIZUHO SECURITIES
Toyota's figures in the fourth quarter were bad, but investors will probably focus on forward-looking factors such as its production plan.
Toyota's president saying that the company's production is expected to recover to 70 percent of its prequake plan in June is positive.
YOSHIHIKO TABEI, CHIEF ANALYST AT KAZAKA SECURITIES
I would like to see why Toyota expects faster recovery in production than rivals. I don't think automakers can make changes in their products so easily. I don't expect the Prius to quickly lose market share because there is no rival model that can replace it. But Toyota is likely to lose market share in mass-market models like the Corolla. I think Toyota can regain its market share once its production fully recovers and inventory is rebuilt.
-- Toyota likely to fall behind General Motors Co and possibly Volkswagen AG to rank third in global vehicle sales this year.
-- Toyota's shares have led a fall in Japanese auto stocks since the disaster, losing 11 percent compared with 9.9 percent at Honda and 5.8 percent at Nissan as of Tuesday's close.
(Reporting by Reuters bureau)
(Editing by Matthew Driskill)