Winds lift Japan's automakers, but not Nissan

“We believe we can achieve 5 percent operating margin eventually,” Uchida said. “But if you look at the immediate challenges today in fiscal year 2021, there is a big impact from semiconductor and commodity price hikes. So at this point in time, in operating profit, we foresee coming out even.”

Many of Nissan’s Japanese rivals, by contrast, are now reloading for a rapid rebound, after a year of being hammered by pandemic-forced factory shutdowns and supply chain bottlenecks.

Most of the group last week released forecasts for their new fiscal year that plot a big bounce back as they put operating troubles behind them.

Toyota now expects near-record revenue, Subaru expects its operating profit to double and even Mitsubishi plans to get back into the black after tumbling to a massive fiscal-year loss.

Toyota got an early jump on securing microchip supplies and is now largely shrugging off the ongoing shortage, saying it expects only a minimal impact on its operations. “Do we foresee any major impact? No,” declared Toyota CFO Kenta Kon. “But we don’t think we can rest and be relaxed.”

He said Toyota’s sales forecast for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2022, is conservative and takes into account the risk of possible supply interruptions.

But the automaker is nonetheless forecasting a 14 percent jump in global wholesales to 8.7 million vehicles in the current fiscal year. It has pegged North American sales to grow 18 percent to 2.7 million vehicles, and European deliveries to increase 15 percent to 1.1 million.

A confident Toyota also said it will pump a record ¥1.16 trillion ($10.5 billion) into R&D in the current fiscal year — an amount that represents about 3.9 percent of its anticipated sales. The increase will go largely into supporting Toyota’s push for electrification.

Toyota predicted that its rebound in global sales will underpin a 14 percent boost to operating profit to ¥2.5 trillion ($22.69 billion) in the current fiscal year, for a robust operating profit margin of 8.3 percent. Achieving that target would mark Toyota’s return to pre-pandemic profit levels and represent its biggest operating profit since notching an all-time high in the fiscal year ended March 2016.

Revenue is expected to reach ¥30.0 trillion ($272.26 billion), just shy of the all-time high of ¥30.2 trillion ($274.07 billion) in the fiscal year ended March 31, 2019.