• Kyodo, Bloomberg

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Toyota Motor Corp. said Tuesday its group net profit for the April-June period dropped 99.4 percent from a year earlier to ¥1.16 billion due chiefly to the production fall caused by the March earthquake and tsunami.

But the automaker revised upward its earnings projections for the business year through March, bolstered by a faster than expected recovery in vehicle production.

Toyota now expects to post a group net profit of ¥390 billion, up from ¥280 billion forecast in June, on sales of ¥19 trillion, up from ¥18.6 trillion projected earlier.

In the three months to June, it logged a hefty group operating loss of ¥107.96 billion, in a reversal from an operating profit of ¥211.66 billion a year earlier. Sales fell 29.4 percent to ¥3.44 trillion.

Toyota and other Japanese carmakers are recovering from the magnitude-9 temblor and tsunami in March, which damaged parts factories and power plants, causing shortages of components and electricity. The company is hiring as many as 4,000 temporary workers in Japan to make up for lost production and will introduce an updated Camry sedan, the best-selling car in the U.S., later this year to regain market share in its most profitable market.

“Toyota and others were much faster to recover from the earthquake,” said Tadashi Usui, senior analyst at Moody’s K.K. in Tokyo. “The challenge is how well they can compete once production is back to normal amid the strong yen.”

Toyota’s vehicle sales in the U.S. dropped 18 percent in the first quarter from a year earlier, and its market share slipped 3.4 percentage points in the period, according to auto industry researcher Edmunds.com.

All of Toyota’s Japan plants were halted until March 28, when the company restarted limited output of Prius and Lexus hybrid models. Production at all domestic factories resumed on April 18 at half capacity.

Toyota may return to unrestricted production of all models in late October, Executive Vice President Atsushi Niimi said in an interview July 4. Short supply of critical parts, particularly semiconductors, rubber and plastic materials, have hampered the recovery.

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