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Last Updated: Tuesday, 10 May, 2005, 08:18 GMT 09:18 UK
Exports drive Toyota profit ahead
Toyota Scion
Toyota says the Scion helped drive sales in the US
Toyota bucked the trend at many rival carmakers with its fifth year of record profits on the back of higher sales to the US and China.

Net profits rose 0.8% to 1.17 trillion yen ($11bn; 5.85bn), while sales were 7.3% higher at 18.55 trillion yen.

The Japanese firm is investing in new factories in the US and China in order to keep up with demand for trucks and saloon cars.

In 2005, its consolidated vehicle sales increased to 7.4 million units.

Right mix

"Toyota has the right products in most of the markets," said Norihito Kanai, an analyst at Meiji Dresdner Asset Management in Tokyo told Bloomberg.

"That makes Toyota successful in a difficult business environment of a stronger yen and higher steel prices."

Over the year to March, US vehicle sales rose 168,000 to 2.27 million, with the Scion series and fuel efficient hybrid petrol-electric Prius models helping to drive growth as consumers ditched "gas guzzling" vehicles like sports utility vehicles.

Meanwhile, in Asia it sold 362,000 more units taking total sales to 1.77 million - mainly as a result of strong sales of its larger Innovative International Multi-Purpose Vehicle.

However, many analysts say growing raw materials costs could affect future profits growth. The company said in the coming year it expected to maintain a similar level of profit as in the just-reported year to the end of March 2005.

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