Toyota's January-March profit more than quadrupled to 121 billion yen ($1.5 billion), and the automaker gave upbeat forecasts, marking a solid recovery from a sales plunge caused by a tsunami in Japan.
Japan's No. 1 automaker forecast Wednesday its profit soaring to 760 billion yen ($9.5 billion) for the fiscal year through March 2013, after plunging 30 percent to 283.6 billion yen ($3.5 billion) for the year ended last month.
The annual results were better than the company projection for a 200 billion yen ($2.5 billion) profit, as well as the FactSet estimate at 279 billion yen ($3.49 billion) -- a sign of a turnaround from last year's tsunami that hobbled Toyota production around the world.
Toyota's profit for January-March the previous year had been dismal at 25.4 billion yen because of the damage from an earthquake and tsunami that hit March 11, 2011. The flooding in Thailand, which disrupted supplies, added to the decline.
Toyota President Akio Toyoda acknowledged the hardships, but also pointed to the strong yen, which erodes the overseas earnings of Japanese exporters like Toyota.
"Our vision is to establish a strong business foundation that will ensure profitability under any kind of difficult business environment," he said.
"But thanks to the concerted efforts of our employees, suppliers and dealers, we were able to recover production and sales faster than anticipated and achieved a strong result."
Toyota, which makes the Prius hybrid, Camry sedan and Lexus luxury models, saw its vehicle sales grow in Japan, Europe and Africa, although not North America. However, it is regaining market share there.
Toyota is expecting to sell 8.7 million vehicles this fiscal year, 1.3 million more vehicles than the nearly 7.4 million vehicles sold for the year ended March.
The rise in gas prices and concerns about global warming are major plus factors for Toyota and other Japanese automakers that excel at producing compact fuel-efficient models.
Toyota's image suffered in North America over a series of massive recalls since 2009, and its U.S. sales fell last year. But its sales and market share in the U.S. have almost recovered.
"It's no secret that Toyota had a tough year last year due to the production fallout from the Japanese earthquake. In the last few months though, Toyota has made big strides to regain the U.S. market share it lost to its competitors," said Edmunds.com senior analyst Jessica Caldwell.
But she warned Toyota needs to keep coming up with new products to maintain its recovery momentum amid intense competition.
Toyota faces an increasingly powerful Hyundai Motor Co., a resurgent General Motors Co. and Volkswagen AG, which remains hard to beat in key growth markets such as China.
Toyota's sales for the fiscal year ended March 31 totaled 18.58 trillion yen ($232 billion), down 2 percent on-year.
January-March sales rebounded to 5.7 trillion yen ($71.3 billion), up 23 percent from 4.6 trillion yen the same period a year ago.
The comeback at Toyota is playing out at other Japanese automakers.
Last month, Honda Motor Co. reported its January-March profit jumped 61 percent on robust car and motorcycle sales, and forecast record global sales of 4.3 million vehicles for this fiscal year.
Nissan Motor Co. reports fiscal results Friday.
Toyoda, the grandson of Toyota's founder, vowed to lead a full turnaround, promising a range of products targeting emerging markets, in addition to established markets.
"In recent years, we have suffered periods of hardship," he said. "This year, I am determined to show tangible results."
Toyota shares closed unchanged at 3,145 yen ($39) in Tokyo, shortly before earnings were announced.
AP Auto Writer Tom Krisher in Detroit contributed to this report. Follow Yuri Kageyama on Twitter at http://twitter.com/yurikageyama