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By Mike Caggeso
Strong emerging market sales provided a huge boost for automotive titan Toyota Motor Corp. (TM), which posted a 7.5% rise in profit for the quarter ended Dec. 31.
Quarterly operating profit - excluding joint ventures in China - rose 4.7% and revenue gained 9.2% in the company's fiscal third quarter.
"We believe our record high financial results can be attributed to Toyota's growth strategy of utilizing every opportunity across the full product line-up and all regions," Takeshi Suzuki, the company's senior managing director, said in a company statement.
Suzuki has a guarded outlook for the fourth quarter because of a slowing U.S. market and strengthening yen, Reuters reported. But behind closed doors, Toyota executives are patting each other on the back.
Last week, the world's second-biggest carmaker inched closer to the top spot, a title that General Motors Corp. (GM) has held for the past 76 years. Toyota sold 9.366 million vehicles in 2007, about 3,000 shy of GM's 9.369 million sales total.
That momentum is evident in each company's recent quarterly statements - Toyota's sales grew 5.3% while GM's grew 4.8%. If that trend carries throughout 2008, Toyota will dethrone GM, and by a much wider margin than just 3,000 vehicles.
This rivalry will continue for a long time, but North America won't be the crucial battleground. Instead, the winner will be the one who can capture emerging markets spanning several continents where new classes of consumers haven't yet established brand loyalty.
Behind the United States, China is GM's second largest market. The company sold more than 1 million vehicles there for the first time in 2007.
Meanwhile, Toyota is beefing up its presence in Russia [with a new factory last year] and is adding capacity in China, Thailand, Brazil and Canada, Reuters reported.
News and Related Story Links:
- Toyota Website:
Toyota Announces Record Third Quarter Operating Results
Toyota gains in emerging markets
- Wall Street Journal:
GM Hangs On To Top Sales Spot Over Toyota