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Aug 4, 5:58 AM EDT

Toyota's quarterly profit up 10 pct on cheap yen, cost cuts


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TOKYO (AP) -- Toyota's profit for April-June rose 10 percent on perks from a cheap yen and cost reduction efforts that offset lower vehicle sales.

Toyota Motor Corp. had a fiscal first quarter profit of 646.3 billion yen ($5.2 billion), up from $587.7 billion a year earlier. Quarterly sales increased by 9 percent to 6.98 trillion yen ($56.3 billion), the automaker said Tuesday.

But it sold about 127,000 fewer vehicles compared to last year, at 2.1 million vehicles during the quarter, as sales languished in Japan, other parts of Asia, and Europe. Vehicle sales were healthy in North America.

Toyota, the world's top automaker for the last three years, was outpaced by Volkswagen AG of Germany in global vehicle sales for the first half of this year.

The manufacturer of the Prius hybrid, Lexus luxury model and Camry sedan was hit by a major embarrassment recently when an American it promoted with great fanfare, as a sign of greater diversity at the company, was arrested in Japan on suspicion of drug law violations.

Julie Hamp, 55, who resigned from her post, was released without charges after nearly a month in custody. She was suspected of importing oxycodone, a narcotic pain killer. The drug is tightly controlled in Japan.

Toyota has announced a board member as her replacement, but has not announced another female senior executive.

Toyota President Akio Toyoda has said the company is on track toward sustainable growth, after having survived the 2011 tsunami disaster in Japan that crimped production, as well as massive recalls, especially in the U.S.

The Japanese automaker left its profit forecast unchanged at 2.25 trillion yen ($18 billion) for the fiscal year through March 2016.

"Favorable foreign exchange rates and cost reduction efforts were main positive factors, while decreased vehicle sales and increases expenses to support initiatives for enhancing competitiveness were negative factors," said Toyota Managing Officer Tetsuya Otake.

After the recalls surfaced, Toyoda announced a halt to expansion such as new auto-assembly plants and instead focused on cost cuts, quality controls, personnel training and making more of existing plants. But that three-year hiatus was lifted earlier this year.

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