Toyota reported record annual net profit of more than $30bn yesterday but the world's largest automaker by sales warned that the current year would be less spectacular.

Helped by a weak yen and strong hybrid vehicle sales, the Japanese giant's bottom line doubled to ¥4.94tn ($31.9bn) in the year to March while revenues rose 21.4% to ¥45.1tn, also an all-time high.

"Under the banner of 'carbon is the enemy', Toyota has done what it can to achieve carbon neutrality and make hybrid cars more prevalent," said chief financial officer Yoichi Miyazaki.

"Since the debut of the Prius model, that effort has gradually paid off, creating the perception even in the American market that hybrids are the main player," Miyazaki told reporters.

For this year it expects net profit of ¥3.57tn, down 27.8%, because of investments in "growth areas" such as electric and hydrogen cars, as well as in "human capital".

Sales will rise 2.0% to ¥46tn.

"We have to accept that there are certain areas where we're significantly behind China...But as a Japanese company fighting in the auto industry, we know we cannot let this lead widen further. We're going to think about how to pull off a game-changer," Miyazaki said.

Toyota last month said it sold 11.1mn vehicles across all brands in the 2023-24 fiscal year, up 5% and the first time they have exceeded 10mn.

A big factor was a 31% jump to 3.7mn in sales of hybrid vehicles — combining internal combustion engines and batteries — like the Corolla compact car and the RAV4 sports utility vehicle.

Sales of purely electric car sales were a much more modest 116,500.

Toyota pioneered hybrid cars with its popular Prius model, but it and other Japanese automakers have been criticised for being slow to embrace purely battery-powered vehicles.

But its strategy appears finally to be paying off with signs that consumers are going cold on pure EVs because of high prices and worries about reliability, range and a lack of charging points.

In 2023, China overtook Japan as the world's biggest vehicle exporter, a change fuelled by the country's dominance in electric cars.

Toyota was also left standing by Elon Musk's EV giant Tesla in terms of market value, but the gap — almost $1tn in 2021 — has now narrowed sharply.

Toyota's share price has soared 34% this year, while that of Tesla — which sold 1.8mn vehicles last year — has dived 28% over the same period.

Toyota is however still aiming to sell 1.5mn EVs annually by 2026 and 3.5mn by 2030.

It is also hoping to mass-produce solid-state batteries, a potentially hugely important technological breakthrough that could mean faster charging times and greater range.

Toyota's unit sales rose 13.8% in North America in 2023-24, while climbing 10.8% in Europe and 8.7 % in Japan, despite a production halt at its Daihatsu unit.

In China, the world's biggest electric car market where local firms such as BYD dominate, Toyota sold 1.9mn vehicles, a rise of only 1.4%.

Toyota shares closed down 0.55% at ¥3,579.0 in Tokyo.
Disney reported higher revenues on Tuesday on a strong performance by its theme parks division and an improving streaming business, but a write-down in the company's India business resulted in a small loss.

The company achieved profitability in its entertainment streaming segment following subscription additions of more than 6mn in Disney+, a landmark after years of losses.

But company officials signalled they expect the division to have a loss in the current quarter, in part due to weaker subscriber counts.

The entertainment giant also offered a cautious outlook on its parks division.

While Disney is still recording "healthy" demand, "we are seeing some evidence of a global moderation from peak post-Covid travel," Chief Financial Officer Hugh Johnston said on a conference call.

Shares of Disney fell sharply on the results, although analysts noted that the company's share price has risen significantly so far in 2024 prior to the report.

For its fiscal second-quarter ending March 30, Disney reported a $20mn quarterly loss following the $2.1bn impairment in Star India. Revenues rose 1.2% to $22.1bn.

The large reduction at Star India relates to combining its India business with India's Reliance Industries, a deal announced in late February.

Disney said it was on track for full-year profits on the entire streaming business after years of losses. This includes the ESPN+ sports network, which pushed the combined business into a loss in the just-finished quarter.

Disney Chief Executive Officer Bob Iger expressed confidence on streaming, in part because of an impending crackdown on improper password sharing.

"That will roll out in earnest across the globe in September," said Iger, who described feeling "quite bullish" in light of Netflix's success in addressing the issue.

"We're going to balance sequels with originals, particularly in animation," said Iger, who described the company as "leaning" back somewhat to sequels.

"There's a lot of value in sequels, obviously, because they're known and it takes less in terms of marketing," Iger said.

The entertainment giant cited Walt Disney World Resort, Hong Kong Disneyland and the company's cruise division as areas of strength in parks and experiences, but saw lower results at Disneyland Resorts.

Asked about succession, Iger said the board is "heavily engaged" in the process and that he is confident "they will choose the right person at the right time."
Italian luxury carmaker Ferrari on Tuesday posted a double digit rise in both profits and sales for the first quarter of 2024, and confirmed its full-year guidance.

Net profit increased by 19 % to €352mn ($379), more than expected by the consensus of Factset analysts who were counting on €335mn.

Revenue increased by 11% to €1.58bn, in line with analysts' expectations.

However, Ferrari's shares on the Milan stock exchange fell by 4.7% amid a sense among some analysts that the firm's annual objectives are not sufficiently ambitious.

For the whole of 2024, the group continues to expect revenue growth of more than 7% to more than €6.4bn euros and gross operating income, or EBITDA, to rise by a similar amount €2.45bn.

Ferrari delivered a total of 3,560 cars worldwide between January and March, seven fewer than in the same period in 2023.

"The start of the year was very positive," commented chief executive Benedetto Vigna, adding: "Our value over volume strategy continues to be successful." Vigna highlighted the "enrichment of our product range" thanks to the launch of the two-seater 12Cilindri and the 12Cilindri Spider.

By 2026, the manufacturer is banking on revenue riseing to €6.7bn, a goal Ferrari intends to achieve by launching 15 new models between 2023 and 2026.

Deliveries in the first quarter were driven by the 296 family models, the Purosangue SUV and the Roma Spider. Deliveries of limited-edition Daytona SP3 from the Icona range also increased.

Europe, the Middle East and Africa remained Ferrari's main market in the first quarter, with 1,573 vehicles delivered, up 3%.

British energy giant BP has said net profit slumped 72% in the first quarter, as gas prices declined from a year earlier.

Profit after tax tumbled to $2.3bn from $8.2bn in the first three months of 2023, BP said.

Total revenue dropped 13% to $48.9bn.

Alongside the results, BP announced "at least" $2.0bn in cost savings by the end of 2026.

"We are simplifying and reducing complexity across BP," chief executive Murray Auchincloss said in an earnings statement.
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Auchincloss, a veteran BP employee, became CEO in January following a period as interim boss in the wake of Bernard Looney's sacking.

Looney was dismissed over his failure to disclose past relationships with colleagues.

BP's rival Shell said last week its net profit dropped 15% to $7.4bn in the first quarter.

Gas prices have dropped heavily since soaring after the invasion of Ukraine by major energy producer Russia in early 2022.

BP also announced a dividend payment and plans to buy back shares totalling $1.75bn, half the amount anticipated for the first six months of 2024.

"BP's proving it can splash the cash to shareholders even in a lower pricing environment," noted Derren Nathan, head of equity research at Hargreaves Lansdown.

"Commodity prices are out of BP's control but where it can make a difference it is.

"There's a new plan to deliver cost savings... and some of the effects of lower prices have been offset by increased production." BP said savings would come from various changes, including to digital operations and supply chains.

It said that underlying replacement cost profit, its preferred measure, came in at $2.7bn in the first quarter, down from nearly $5bn a year earlier.

That was below forecasts of nearly $2.9bn.

"Unlike rival Shell, which last week managed to report earnings which were down year-on-year but still higher than analysts expected, BP's quarterly scorecard disappointed investors," said Victoria Scholar, head of investment at Interactive Investor.

She noted that BP has also suffered from a first-quarter power outage at a major refinery in the US.

"On top of that, compared to its US rivals, BP has put a much greater emphasis on the green energy transition and unfortunately BP has suffered as a consequence." As is custom when energy majors posts earnings, environmentalists hit out.

Alice Harrison, head of fossil fuel campaigns at Global Witness, criticised BP's rewards to shareholders and its energy prices, which have remained high during the drawn-out cost-of-living crisis.

BP was more interested in "making the rich richer" than helping to "ease the burden of high bills or support countries suffering from the climate crisis", she said.
Nintendo has logged a record net profit of ¥490bn ($3.2bn) for the 2023-24 financial year, helped by the weak yen, but issued a cautious forecast.

The Japanese game giant, whose Switch console is now in its eighth year, said it expects net profit of ¥300bn in the current financial year, a drop of nearly 40%.
Saudi Telecom

Saudi Arabia’s top telecom company reported its strongest first-quarter profit since 2006 as it made more revenue from business at home, reports Bloomberg.

Saudi Telecom Co’s net income rose almost 6% year on year to 3.29bn riyals ($877mn) in the first three months of the year, according to a statement on Wednesday. That beat the average analyst estimate for 3.15bn. Revenue also exceeded expectations on the back of stronger activity in the commercial unit.

Saudi Telecom, or STC as its known, recently agreed to sell a majority stake in its tower operations unit to Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund for a cash consideration of 8.7bn riyals. The company said it’ll use the money to support its plans to expand locally and internationally.

STC has made a string of global acquisitions over the last year, including a $2.25bn stake in Spain’s Telefonica, and is said to be in pole position to acquire Altice’s Portuguese business.

Shares of STC are down about 7% so far this year compared with a gain of 3% for the Saudi Tadawul index. STC is 64% owned by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, known as the PIF.

Swiss banking giant UBS on Tuesday said first quarter net profit rose 71% to nearly $1.8bn, far exceeding expectations, after two quarters in the red due to the mammoth takeover of Credit Suisse.

Switzerland's biggest bank said its turnover increased by 46% to $12.7bn, largely thanks to its investment banking arm, which had been the key part in the mega-merger.

UBS's investment banking revenues increased by 16%, driven by a more favourable market climate and by the good performance of IPOs and mergers and acquisitions.

In March 2023, Swiss authorities strong-armed UBS into the $3.25bn takeover to prevent Credit Suisse from going under with catastrophic consequences for the global financial system.

The results for the first three months of 2024 were a moment for the bank to review progress since the integration of Credit Suisse.

"A little over a year ago, we were asked to play a critical role in stabilising the Swiss and global financial systems through the acquisition of Credit Suisse and we are delivering on our commitments," said UBS chief executive Sergio Ermotti.

"This quarter marks the return to reported net profits and further capital accretion — a testament to the strength of our business and client franchises and our ability to deliver significant progress on our integration plans while actively optimising our financial resources

UBS posted a $785mn loss in the third quarter of 2023, and was down $279mn in the fourth quarter.

Many analysts expected UBS's results to return to positive territory following the 2024 first quarter figures published by US banks in the same league.

Analysts surveyed by the Swiss financial newswire AWP had on average expected UBS to post a net profit of $637mn.

But Switzerland's leading bank far exceeded expectations, with Swiss investment managers Vontobel describing the results as "massively above estimates".

UBS continued its cost reductions, making $1bn in additional savings during the first quarter, with the cumulative figure since the merger amounting to $5bn, or nearly 40% of the $13bn target for 2026.

By the end of the year, the group hopes to achieve another $1.5bn in savings.

Analysts with the Zurich Cantonal Bank said the results showed that in an improved environment, UBS could both increase revenues and reduce costs.

"The bank therefore still appears to be on track to implement the integration of Credit Suisse in line with the target plan," ZKB said.

Though Tuesday's first quarter figures were better than expected, investors are watching to see how UBS deals with looming tighter regulation for Switzerland's banking sector.

The merger of the two largest banks in the country created a megabank of troubling size in relation to the Swiss economy.

The Swiss government last month unveiled a project aimed at toughening the rules on banks, regarding both bonuses and the capital they must set aside to be able to face a crisis.

According to calculations by some experts, UBS may need to build an additional liquidity cushion of $15bn to $25bn — figures that Finance Minister Karin Keller-Sutter told a newspaper were plausible.

Ermotti told a conference with analysts it was "an important discussion for the country", but while hoping for a reasonable outcome it was still "too early to speculate on the impact" the changes might have.

In the 12 months following the Credit Suisse takeover, UBS shares gained 59 % on the stock market.

However, since April, shares have fallen back as investors worry about the additional amounts that the bank will have to put to one side.