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Toyota slashes annual profit forecast

Toyota Motor Corp slashed its annual operating profit forecast by more than half as the financial crisis hits auto demand, cuts access to credit and sends the yen higher.

For the year to March 31, the world's biggest automaker now expects operating profit of ¥600 billion ($6.1 billion) versus a previous forecast of ¥1.6 trillion. A poll of 17 brokerages had forecast ¥1.34 trillion.

The maker of the Camry sedan, Prius gas-electric hybrid and Tundra pickup truck now expects net profit of ¥550 billion instead of ¥1.25 trillion.

Toyota, until recently the envy of the industry with eight straight years of profit growth, has had to put factories on hold, release temporary staff and offer buyers unprecedented incentives as sales in the crucial US market slumped further than it expected.

With two months remaining this year, Toyota's US sales are down 12% to date, forcing it to lower its forecast there this week for the second time in four months.

Detroit's General Motors Corp, Ford Motor Co and Chrysler LLC are faring worse, suffering sharper sales drops and struggling to return to profit.

Toyota's July-September operating profit fell 72% to ¥169.5 billion, while net profit sank 69% to ¥139.8 billion. (Reuters)