Toyota reports $7.7 billion loss in first-quarter, forecasts $8.6 billion annual loss

Toyota, the world’s largest and most profitable automaker, today reported a loss of $7.7 billion (larger than GM) during the first-quarter of 2009 and cut its annual dividend nearly 30 percent – the first cut since 1994.

The Japanese automaker said that it forecasts an annual loss of $8.6 billion this year and would sell about 1 million fewer vehicles. It said it will do all it can to cut costs and cushion its business during this economic downturn beating.

“Toyota’s outlook was worse than I’d expected. The company expects a really tough time for the first six months,” said Naoki Fujiwara, a fund manager at Shinkin Asset Management. “I expect the bottom for the auto industry is the April-June period, followed by a slow recovery.”

The global economic slowdown has hit the U.S. auto industry very hard. Chrysler has been forced into bankruptcy, while GM also face Chapter 11. Toyota, a rapidly expanding automaker, now has too much inventory with a dozen of its plants idled.

– By: Omar Rana

Source: Reuters