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Quarterly Profits Double for Japanese Auto Giant Toyota - 2003-02-07

Japan's economy remains weak, but some companies are managing to surge ahead. Among them: Toyota - Japan's largest carmaker. Its net profit nearly doubled in the third quarter to $1.8 billion.

Toyota attributes its healthy performance to cost cutting and brisk overseas sales, especially in the United States. It forecasts a strong fourth quarter and expects to post a record profit for the year.

Japan's number two automaker, Honda, is also going strong. One of its models, called the "Fit", retains its place as the best-selling model in Japan. According to the Japan Automobile Dealers Association, Honda sold more than 13,000 of the cars in the domestic market last month. The "Fit" was also last year's bestseller, beating Toyota's Corolla for the first time in more than 30 years.

David Iida, a Honda spokesman, said "I think now some of these smaller cars are much more roomy and we are getting good fuel economy. People are becoming more cost-conscious in that sense."

The world's largest mobile phone carrier confirms that it is in talks to sell part of its stake in Japan Telecom. Britain's Vodafone, which owns two-thirds of the company, wants to sell Japan Telecom's telephone network, but will keep Japan Telecom's mobile phone operations. American investment fund Ripplewood Holdings is one potential buyer, and its offer is expected to come in at about $2.5 billion.