Toyota Motor Corporation ( TM ) reported global sales of 10.23 million units in 2014, surpassing Volkswagen AG ( VLKAY ) and General Motors Company ( GM ) to become the leading automaker once again after 2012 and 2013. Volkswagen reported global sales of 10.14 million vehicles in 2014, rising 4% over 2013. General Motors reported record global sales of 9.92 million vehicles in 2014, up 2% from 2013.
Toyota had first earned the top position in 2008 and maintained it for the next two years. However, it lost significant market share in 2011 due to product recalls in the U.S. and problems with parts suppliers owing to the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. As a result, General Motors took the lead in 2011, followed by Volkswagen. However, Toyota surpassed General Motors and Volkswagen to become the largest-selling automaker again in 2012. Also, the automaker retained the leading position in 2013 due to strong demand in both the Japanese and international markets.
The feat was repeated in 2014 courtesy of a 3% improvement in sales, driven by a 3% increase in sales outside Japan and a 1% rise in Japanese sales. However, Toyota projects sales decline of 1% to 10.15 million units this year. The projected decrease in sales is due to a 9% decline expected in Japanese sales, which will offset a 2% improvement in sales outside Japan.
The automaker will adjust its production accordingly. Toyota plans to produce 10.21 million vehicles globally this year, down 1% over 2014. Production in Japan is also likely to fall 6% to 3.97 million units. This will offset the 3% production increase to 6.24 million vehicles planned outside Japan.
Toyota currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). A better-ranked auto stock is O'Reilly Automotive Inc. ( ORLY ), which sports a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).
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