Toyota in 765.8 billion yen net loss

TOKYO: Toyota Motor Corp. said it sank into a 765.8 billion yen ($7.74 billion) net loss for the January-March quarter, bringing its loss for the full fiscal year to a bigger-than-expected 436.94 billion yen - its worst annual loss ever.

The outlook is even grimmer: The world's biggest automaker projects that net losses will deepen to 550 billion yen for the fiscal year through March 2010.

President Katsuaki Watanabe said the devastating results were caused by "the significant deterioration in vehicle sales, particularly in the U.S. and Europe," the strong yen and the rising cost of raw materials.

For the January-March period in 2008 - back when the Japanese automaker's sales were booming - Toyota had a net profit of 316.8 billion yen. It had racked up a record profit of 1.72 trillion yen the previous fiscal year, riding on its reputation for quality and good mileage.

But Toyota's business has been hit hard by the U.S. financial crisis and credit crunch, which sent ripple effects around the world. Annual sales plunged 21.9 percent to 20.529 trillion yen for the fiscal year ended March 2009.

For the current fiscal year, it expects sales to slide another 19.6 percent to 16.5 trillion yen.

The maker of the Prius hybrid and Lexus luxury models is expecting its operating loss - reflecting its core automaking business - to deepen to 850 billion yen for the year through March 2010 from 461 billion yen this past year.