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Japan's Top Carmaker Reports Record Profits - 2001-11-09

Japan's top carmaker reports a record profit while financial woes grip other Japanese market leaders.

Japanese carmaker Toyota put in a strong performance for the first half of the year, despite the global economic slump. Toyota's net profit jumped 82 percent to almost $2.5 billion dollars, its best ever interim results.

The company says that the weak yen helped boost overseas sales, and cost-cutting measures helped the bottom line.

Shinji Katayama is an auto analyst at Shinko Securities in Tokyo. "The expectations are that Toyota's growth for the next year will remain flat because domestic and overseas economic conditions are tough," Katayama said.

Nonetheless, Toyota predicts that its full year earnings will be strong.

NTT DoCoMo, Japan's top cellular phone company, has tumbled into the red for the first time. In the half year to September, DoCoMo reported a 52 percent drop in net profit because of huge losses in its international investments. However, the company says its domestic mobile phone business remains strong and that it will review its overseas investment strategy.

McDonald's Japan has slashed its profit forecast for this fiscal year by about 27 percent. It says public fears over mad cow disease, after the discovery of the country's first case two months ago, have affected hamburger sales.

Yasuyuki Yagi is vice president of McDonald's Japan. He says the company has tried to reassure Japanese consumers that it imports its beef from Australia, which is free of the disease. "We have been financially hit by mounting public concerns that beef is not safe," Yagi continues. "I do not know how to express my anger over this misconception."

In Japan's electronics sector, industry leader Toshiba says it will force 12,000 workers at its semiconductor factories to take leave. The move comes in response to the slowing demand for computer chips.

Over the next two months, Toshiba will place employees on a temporary leave of two to four days and will cut their salaries by 10 percent. Toshiba rival NEC recently unveiled a similar plan.