Holy cow! If this wasn't a family website, I'd have a slightly different phrase for Toyota's
The producer of Toyota and Lexus cars and trucks reported an annual net profit for fiscal 2003 of 1.16 trillion yen ($10.2 billion), an increase of 54.8% (yes, you read that correctly) from its year-earlier record of 751 billion yen. These growth numbers are what I'd expect from a growing technology company, not Japan's auto leader.
With its extraordinary performance, Toyota became the first Japanese company to earn more than 1 trillion yen in a year. To make matters worse for its domestic and international competitors, including Honda Motor
For the year, sales were driven higher in every major market. Powered by the popularity of its Sienna, Lexus RX330, and Corolla (you've got to love that variety -- a minivan, an SUV, and a compact car), Toyota reported a 6.1% increase in North American sales to 2.1 million vehicles. In Europe, sales grew by 15.7%, helped by the new Avensis. The regions of Asia and the Middle East provided the largest percentage increase with a 24.4% jump in sales. Even with the continued market difficulties in Japan, the company was able to eke out a gain in sales of 0.6%. Toyota now claims an astounding 42.9% of the Japanese market (excluding mini-vehicles).
Maybe even scarier for competitors is the company's ability to foresee and avoid potential potholes in the road ahead. Toyota is aware of the pitfalls it may face in the coming year, particularly the uncertainties in the exchange rates and interest rates. The company, however, has proven it is more than capable of performing strongly in less than ideal market environments. Toyota said it would continue to increase its sales and reduce costs to help offset any potential negative impacts.
With the company's impressive performance and its continued expansion, Toyota will continue to be a major player in the automobile industry (how's that for an understatement?). The company seems poised to make a good run at reaching its goal of owning 15% of the world automobile market.
Are you a car buff? Check out our Buying and Maintaining a Car discussion board.
Fool contributor Mike Cianciolo drives a Toyota, but doesn't own any of the companies in this article.