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Toyota Forecasts $8.6 Billion Annual Loss

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A day after GM posted yet another staggering quarterly loss, Toyota has released that it expects to loose $8.6 billion during this fiscal year. The loss was mostly driven by Toyota's Q4 results, which just came in at negative $6.9 billion.

This is the first annual operating loss Toyota has ever posted and even more shocking it comes just one year after record profits.

Toyota President Katsuaki Watanabe noted the worldwide economic downturn at a new conference but was clear that the blame doesn't entirely lie outside the company. "Of course the external environment doesn't help, but we were lacking in the scope and speed of dealing with various problems and issues, and for that I am sorry."

Toyota expects that for it's 2009-10 fiscal year sales will decrease by 14 percent to 6.5 million vehicle worldwide.

To return to profit Toyota must sell more vehicles, increase profits and/or reduce operating costs. Watanabe predicts that the total annual vehicle sales for 2009 in the U.S. will be 10 million vehicles, but even that may be optimistic.

Vehicle sales may, however, go up with the introduction of the new Prius this year. The only problem is, Toyota already significantly cut the MSRP of that vehicle to compete with Honda's Insight - resulting in lower profit margins.

To reduce expenditures, Toyota is slowing production significantly with one third of its plants working single shifts. The automaker has also ceased any expansion plans for the year. Toyota has no plans of closing any production facilities.

Meanwhile rival Honda Motor Co. is forecasting a small profit for the year, due mostly to it's motorcycle business.

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