TOKYO -- Toyota posted a surprise 22 percent rise in quarterly operating profit, as a weaker yen and higher sales volumes helped the automaker overcome a jolt from soaring raw-materials costs.
Operating profit for the three months ended Dec. 31 was 956.7 billion yen ($7.28 billion). In the same period a year earlier, Toyota reported a 784.4 billion yen profit.
Like many global manufacturers, Toyota is still grappling with the continued fall-out from semiconductor shortage and the pain from rising costs.
The Prius maker said it was working to secure a stable supply of chips, according to a presentation that accompanied the results on Thursday.
Toyota trimmed its annual production target by about 1 percent, to around 9.1 million vehicles but the automaker stuck to its forecast for annual profit of 2.4 trillion yen for its financial year ending March 31.
Koji Endo, senior analyst at SBI Securities, said Toyota's vehicle sales are very strong, but costs are rising. "Toyota has been gradually raising prices in the United States from around the second half of last year to offset that," he said.
The automaker is likely to comfortably exceed its full-year forecast, given that it has now delivered 2.1 trillion yen in the first nine months of the year, Endo said.
Vehicle sales rose across all major regions, with North America, its biggest market, showing the strongest growth of 16 percent, double the overall average of 8 percent gain.
Toyota benefited from a plunge in the yen in October last year. The Japanese currency hit a 32-year low of 151.94 to the dollar on Oct. 21, prompting authorities to intervene.
Although the weak yen helps Japan’s carmakers boost the competitiveness of vehicles sold abroad and the value of earnings brought back home, they don’t get as much benefit as they used to because the weaker yen also increases imported costs of raw materials and energy.
As the prolonged global shortage of auto chips enters its third year, some automakers are suffering more than others.
Ford Motor last week blamed a 100,000 vehicle shortfall in its fourth-quarter volume mostly on the inability to obtain enough chips.