*

Hitt og þetta 7. febrúar 2006

DJ Toyota Motor Oct-Dec Group Net Profit Y397.6B Vs Y296.5B

TOKYO (Dow Jones)--Toyota Motor Corp. (7203.TO) said Tuesday that its group net profit for the October-December quarter rose strongly from a year earlier as its solid North American sales and a weaker yen lifted its profits.

The Japan's biggest car maker by sales volume posted a group net profit of Y397.57 billion in the quarter ended Dec. 31, up 34% from Y296.53 billion a year earlier.

Its group sales grew 15% to Y5.333 trillion from Y4.644 trillion, and its group operating profit rose 14% to Y482.21 billion from Y422.90 billion.

This was the first on-year rise in its quarterly operating profit in a year, as its rapid sales growth increased its burden of costs to build more production plants, squeezing profits amid a relative lack of new models.

Toyota late last year unveiled a production plan for this year that could help it top General Motors Corp. (GM) as the world's biggest car producer.

Toyota sold 1.98 million vehicles globally in the third quarter through December, up 7.6% from 1.84 million a year earlier, as it boosted sales in North America to 642,765 from 576,113.

Sales in Japan and Europe were weak however. Toyota sold 571,162 vehicles in Japan, down from 573,115. Its European sales fell to 245,960 from 249,275.

For this fiscal year through March 31, the car maker lowered its global sales outlook to 7.95 million units from Y8.03 million it had projected in November.

Toyota doesn't offer its group earnings projections. It maintained its parent earnings estimates for this fiscal year through March 31.

Toyota reports its earnings in accordance with U.S. generally accepted accounting principles.

-By Yoshio Takahashi and Natsuo Nishio, Dow Jones Newswires; 813-5255-2929; yoshio.takahashi@dowjones.com

-Edited by Shawn Schroter and Tomoko Hosaka

(END) Dow Jones Newswires