Tokyo : Toyota yesterday said it was on track for a record annual profit as its nine-month net earnings more than doubled to $15 billion on a sharp drop in the yen and surging overseas sales. The buoyant results underscore a recovery not only for the world's biggest automaker but also for rival Japanese auto giants, including Nissan and Honda . The trio have been big winners over the past year as a sharp drop in the yen inflated exporters' repatriated profits, further boosted by improved overseas demand in key markets including the United States and China . China sales fell off a cliff in late 2012 and into last year as a Tokyo - Beijing diplomatic row sparked a consumer boycott of Japanese brands in China , the world's biggest vehicle market. Emerging markets Relations remain tense, but Japanese manufacturers have said their dented sales are coming back to pre-spat levels. Yesterday, Toyota said it earned ¥1.52 trillion ( $15 billion ) between April and December on sales of ¥19.12 trillion — propelled by a five-fold jump in third-quarter earnings. It also boosted a fiscal year to March profit forecast to a record ¥1.90 trillion. The automaker has ramped up its bid to tap emerging markets while key United States demand has also been on the upswing, helping the firm book ever-increasing profits. "In addition to the positive impact of the weaker yen, our operating income increased due to marketing efforts such as increased vehicle sales and cost reduction activities," Toyota managing officer Takuo Sasaki said. 10m vehicle sales Last month, Toyota kept the title of world's biggest automaker with calendar-year 2013 sales of 9.98 million vehicles, outpacing Germany's Volkswagen and General Motors , and said it expects this year to become the first automaker to break the 10 million vehicle sales barrier. Toyota broke GM's decade-long reign as world's top automaker in 2008 but lost the crown three years later as Japan's quake-tsunami disaster hammered production and disrupted the supply chains of Japanese automakers. Last week, Honda said its nine-month net profit surged almost 40 per cent to ¥403.60 billion, thanks to brisk global sales and a weaker yen. Nissan reports its financial results next week. Despite the buoyant figures so far, an April sales tax hike in Japan and possible slowdown in key US and Asian markets could put the brakes on sales, said Takaki Nakanishi , an analyst.
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