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Toyota Posts Largest-Ever Profit - 2004-05-14


Sales in North America helped give Toyota the biggest profit ever recorded by a Japanese company, while other Japanese automakers also reported record earnings. Japanese videogame makers have kicked off competition for the hand-held game market.

Toyota, the world's top automaker, says its net profit soared above one trillion yen for the business year that ended March 31. That is the first time a Japanese company has ever topped that mark, which equals about $9.25 billion.

The automaker's worldwide sales jumped nearly 10 percent to more than 6.7 million vehicles, also a record high. It predicts sales will surpass seven million this fiscal year.

Fujio Cho is Toyota's president. Mr. Cho said that the company is benefiting from efforts to strengthen its overseas operations and to create a balanced global business model that is more resistant to market fluctuations and currency exchange risks.

Competitors Honda and Nissan also announced record net profits and sales for the year that ended in March. Suzuki, which specializes in smaller vehicles, also posted record results.

The Japanese government says core machinery orders dropped a seasonally adjusted 3.2 percent in March from the previous month. Analysts say the decline was unexpected but predict orders will rise again because of improving demand for Japanese exports.

Core machinery orders, which exclude shipping and utilities, are considered an indicator of corporate capital spending six to nine months in the future.

Two Japanese companies have unveiled their new portable game consoles.

Nintendo, which has a virtual monopoly in the hand-held game sector, has previewed its DS game player, which has a pair of small LCD screens, one of which is touch sensitive. The company says the unit also has a voice-recognition function.

Sony, playing catch-up in the sector, is introducing its PlayStation Portable. Sony says the unit will play movies for up to two and half hours on a single battery charge.

Both companies say their devices will be sold first in Japan and will appear on store shelves here around the end of the year.

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