Weak yen helps lift Toyota profits to 620 billion yen

Supported by brisk sales and the weaker yen, Toyota Motor Corp. said May 21 that its unconsolidated pretax profit surged 82.1 percent to 620.4 billion yen — the third-highest level for the firm — in the 1996 business year that ended March 31.

Higher sales both in the home and overseas markets pushed Toyota’s sales up by 14.4 percent from the previous year to 9.10 trillion yen. Its operating income rose 120 percent to 517 billion yen, it said.

Toyota made 240 billion yen from the yen’s fall against other major currencies and 110 billion yen from cost-cutting efforts, according to the nation’s largest automaker. The company’s domestic vehicle sales rose 2.23 million units, up 7.1 percent from the previous year, and its exports increased 12.4 percent to 1.31 million units.

The company expects to post 630 billion yen in pretax profits in the current business year that ends next March, assuming that the yen’s exchange rate remains at around 112 yen against the dollar. It also said that it will open a stock option program for all 56 members of its board of directors. The measure is aimed at further motivating board members to improve corporate performance and increase the company’s international competitiveness, Toyota officials said.