UPDATE 1-Toyota Q4 profit beats forecasts; cautious on 10/11

* Q4 op profit Y95.3 bln vs consensus Y6.25 bln loss

* Sees 2010/11 op profit up 90 pct at Y280 bln

* Returns to profit in 2009/10, ahead of plan

* Shares end down 0.7 pct ahead of results; underperform
(Adds background, details)

By Chang-Ran Kim, Asia autos correspondent

TOKYO, May 11 (BestGrowthStock) – Toyota Motor Corp (7203.T: ) beat
forecasts with a fourth-quarter profit (Read more your timing to make a profit.) on Tuesday as it cut
costs and its aggressive sales incentives swiftly drew U.S.
customers back to showrooms after its worst recall crisis.

Toyota’s projection for a 90 percent rise in operating
profit for the year to end-March 2011 was little more than half
market forecasts, however, in a sign of lingering caution as
the world’s biggest automaker faces a host of challenges to
restore earnings.

Rivals such as Honda Motor Co (7267.T: ) have also given
cautious forecasts citing uncertainty over raw material prices
and difficulty in getting a read on car sales after government
subsidies to stimulate demand end in Japan and other markets.

Toyota has the extra burden of unknown legal costs and
spending on promotions to entice buyers after recalling some 8
million vehicles globally since last October to fix sticking
accelerator pedals.

Some lawyers estimate Toyota faces potential civil
liabilities of more than $10 billion in U.S. courts alone.

And it may face further federal fines, with U.S. safety
regulators opening a fresh investigation over whether the
automaker had delayed action to address complaints about
certain steering system parts on Hilux pickup trucks.
For StarMine comparative data: http://r.reuters.com/fad23k
For earnings graphic: http://r.reuters.com/gar53k


Toyota had flagged a small operating loss for last year,
estimating a $2 billion hit from lost sales from the damage to
its brand and the recall costs.

Instead, annual operating profit came to 147.5 billion yen,
bouncing back from a loss of 461 billion yen in 2008/09.

Japan’s Yomiuri newspaper had reported on Sunday that the
operating profit could reach around 100 billion yen for the
year. [ID:nTOE648004]

Toyota booked an operating profit of 95.3 billion yen ($1
billion) in January-March, marking a third straight quarterly
profit and a swing from the 682.5 billion yen loss a year
earlier. The result beat a loss estimate of 6.25 billion yen in
a survey of 21 brokerages by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Toyota projected an operating profit of 280 billion yen for
the 2010/11 business year, far more conservative than the
consensus market forecast of 546 billion yen.

Less than a year at his post, President Akio Toyoda, the
media-shy grandson of the company’s founder, has had to face
grilling in U.S. congressional hearings over Toyota’s safety
record. He has addressed workers and dealers in all major
markets, at times tearfully, in an effort to boost morale and
restore consumer confidence.

Toyota has beaten the market’s growth in its most important
U.S. market in the past two months with the help of incentives
including zero percent financing, and has said it would
continue offering them at least until the end of May.

Shares in Toyota have lost about 10 percent in the year to
date, lagging a near 5 percent fall in Tokyo’s transport sector
subindex (.ITEQP.T: ) over the same period.

Before the results, Toyota ended down 0.7 percent at 3,495
yen, while the transport sector lost 1.3 percent.

Stock Report

(Editing by Lincoln Feast)

UPDATE 1-Toyota Q4 profit beats forecasts; cautious on 10/11