Honda Motor Co. on Tuesday became the latest automaker to post disappointing quarterly and annual financial results while Toyota Motor Co.’s top executive warned the company could see profits drop as much as 80% for the year.
in Honda’s case for fiscal year 2019, the Japanese automaker reported its lowest operating profit in four years, ¥633.6 billion, or $5.9 billion, on revenue of ¥14.9 trillion. Operating profits and revenue dropped 12.8% and 6%, respectively. Group net profit fell 25.3% to ¥455.75 billion, or $4.2 billion.
The biggest driver of the decline was the COVID-19 affected fourth quarter. Honda saw a 28% drop in fourth-quarter vehicle sales, which resulted in the automaker reporting an operating loss of ¥5.2 billion yen, its first quarterly loss since the March 2016 quarter. It’s a drop of ¥47.9 billion year over year, the company reported.
“It is difficult to reasonably calculate the impact of COVID-19,” Executive Vice President Seiji Kuraishi said during a livestreamed press conference to announce the results.
Conversely, Akio Toyoda, Toyota’s top official, had no problem offering up some insight – albeit no hard numbers yet – on the impact the pandemic has had on Japan’s top automaker.
“The coronavirus has dealt us a bigger shock than the 2008 global financial crisis,” he said during a livestreamed press conference. During that event, he speculated that the company expects profit to drop by 80% to its lowest in nine years.
Toyota expects to see a massive ¥1.5 trillion, or $13.9 billion, drop in profits due to the decline in vehicle sales around the world due to the coronavirus. However, officials did say Toyota – typically one of the world’s most profitable automakers – will make a small operating profit of ¥500 billion for its fiscal year which also ended March 31.
“We anticipate a big drop in sales volumes, but despite that we are expecting to remain in the black. We hope to become a leader of the country’s economic recovery,” Toyoda said, offering a bit of a glimpse into what automakers are expecting for the year.
The company predicted its global sales for 2020 would come in at 8.9 million vehicles, which would be its lowest in nine years, compared with the 10.46 million vehicles it sold for fiscal year 2019. He did suggest that 2021 would see sales similar to 2019’s results.
Conversely, Honda’s EVP Kuraishi was a bit more conservative, offering only, “We will release a forecast when we can.” He’s not alone, most other automakers who have offered up earnings results, have spoken only in generalities, that sales will be down significantly in 2020 with a rebound in 2021. Honda sold 4.79 million vehicles worldwide – not counting motorcycles – which was a drop of 10 percent.