Not long ago seen as the auto industry’s invincible 800-pound gorilla, the problems keep piling up for Toyota, and that’s worrying the folks who have to put a rating on the maker’s debt – Moody’s downgrading Toyota and warning it could cut the debt rating again in the months ahead.
The Japanese giant still commands the investment-grade rating its Detroit rivals can only dream of, but the latest move by the powerful ratings service underscores growing concerns about Toyota’s ability to cope with problems ranging from quality to new competitors, as well as the setbacks it has suffered in the wake of the March 11 disaster in Japan that will likely reduce its production this year by close to 500,000 vehicles.
It will “take some time,” a statement from Moody’s Investor Services said, for Toyota to “recover its previous strong profitability.”
As a result, the agency lowered from Aa2 to Aa3 – which is still its fourth-highest credit ranking. But it follows a downgrade earlier this year by Standard and Poors, and Moody’s warned that yet another downgrade could come soon because Toyota’s ratings “incorporate one notch of support from the country’s banks and government, which are themselves under review for possible downgrade.”