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Two Japanese Auto Makers Release Strong Earnings - 2002-05-14

Two major Japanese auto makers have released strong earnings reports, thanks to cost cutting plans and healthy overseas sales.

Toyota Motors, Japan's top carmaker, says its net profit surged 31 percent for the last fiscal year. Earnings totaled a record $4.8 billion, making the company Japan's top corporate earner.

Toyota controls 42 percent of the Japanese auto market. For the first time, it has gained more than a 10 percent market share in the United States, partly due to the stronger dollar, which makes Japanese imports relatively cheaper.

Fujio Cho, Toyota's president, told reporters that "the company will aim for more growth and is moving toward its worldwide sales goal of six million vehicles a year."

Last year, Toyota's total vehicle sales came to almost 5.8 million units.

Mitsubishi Motors, Japan's fourth largest car maker, has announced its first profit in three years. The company's net profit totaled $88 million in the last business year. Twelve months earlier, the company had unveiled its worst-ever loss.

While the results are not as vigorous as Toyota's, analysts say they reflect the progress made by an aggressive restructuring plan. Mitsubishi has recently slashed more than 9,000 jobs from its payroll.

The company, which is partly owned by German auto giant DaimlerChrysler, is still struggling with heavy debts. Mitsubishi hopes that the launch of a new compact vehicle, called the Z-Car, will strengthen its bottom line.