Toyota first-half profit seen up 10 pct -Nikkei

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TOKYO, Oct 23 (Reuters) Toyota Motor Corp's group operating profit is expected to have risen about 10 percent to more than 1.2 trillion yen (.5 billion) for the six months to September, the Nikkei business daily said on Tuesday, without citing sources.

Strong sales in emerging markets such as Asia and the Middle East as well as in Europe and the United States have helped Toyota book a record interim profit for a second consecutive year, the Nikkei said.

Toyota declined to comment on the news report, but its shares rose 1.3 percent in the morning session to 6,200 yen. That compared with a gain of 0.8 percent in the TOPIX index.

The reported figure is in line with the market consensus of 1.29 trillion yen, according to a poll of four analysts by Reuters Estimates.

While expanding its presence in developing markets, Toyota has also been cranking up market share in mature regions with fuel-efficient cars such as the Prius hybrid and RAV 4 crossover as well as entering the full-sized pickup truck segment with the Tundra model.

Its lean operations and savvy cost-cutting have also enabled Toyota to absorb a stubborn rise in commodity prices.

But Toyota appeared to have fared poorly in its home market.

Sales in Japan are likely to have slipped from a year earlier, partly because of a major earthquake in July that forced Toyota to halt some production lines, the Nikkei said.

The company's operating profit margin for the April-June quarter rose above 10 percent, but the margin for the first half appears to have fallen to 9 to 10 percent due to the yen's appreciation and higher spending on research and development, the Nikkei said.

Toyota is due to report its second-quarter results on Nov. 7.

REUTERS SR RN1142

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