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2017-05-10 12:04

PROFIT DROP: Toyota reported a decline in profit for the first time in five years, blaming the strong Japanese currency of taking from its bottom line. Image: AP/ David Zalubowski

Tokyo - Toyota said on Wednesday its annual net profit fell for the first time in five years, with the Japanese automaker unexpectedly warning of more declines as a stronger yen takes a bite out of its bottom line.

The Corolla and Prius hybrid maker posted a profit of 1.83-trillion yen ($16-billion) on slightly lower revenue of 27.6-trillion yen for the recently ended year to March - well down from a record 2.31 trillion yen net profit the previous year.

Vehicle sales 

Toyota, which lost its crown last year to Volkswagen as the world's top-selling automaker, expects a net profit of 1.5-trillion yen in the current year to March 2018 - way off market expectations around 1.9-trillion yen.

Vehicle sales in the past fiscal year ticked up to 10.25-million units from 10.19-million vehicles a year earlier.

Unit sales in the key North American market remained flat, while Toyota registered a pick up in Europe, Japan and the rest of Asia.

Ford, Nissan, GM, Toyota report April US sales declines

Demand dropped in Central and South America, Africa and the Middle East, it said.

Japanese exporters, including major automakers like Toyota and Nissan, have benefited in recent years from a sharp drop in the yen.

A weaker yen boosts the bottom line by making their products relatively less expensive overseas, while inflating the value of profits earned abroad.

Yen a 'safe haven' currency

But this past fiscal year has seen sharp moves in the currency, with the Japanese unit surging after Britain's shock vote to exit the European Union boosted demand for the yen as a safe haven currency.

The trend briefly reversed course after billionaire Donald Trump's November US presidential election win fanned expectations that his big-spending, tax-cutting agenda would fire up inflation and push the Federal Reserve to hike interest rates.

A rate hike tends to lift the dollar against other currencies. 

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