Toyota’s second quarter profit more than quadrupled despite lingering worries about the safety of its cars after massive recalls that are still dogging its sales in the U.S.

Toyota reported July-September profit of 98.7 billion yen ($1.2 billion) on Friday, up dramatically from 21.8 billion yen profit a year earlier but lower than analysts expected. Quarterly sales rose 5.8 per cent to 4.80 trillion yen ($59.5 billion).

Toyota Motor Corp is the only major automaker whose U.S. sales have been sluggish despite a recent onslaught of incentives that have boosted other automakers’ results, underlining how its once sterling image continues to be tarnished in that crucial market.

Like other Japanese exporters, Toyota is also fighting damage from a strong yen that erodes the value of overseas earnings.

The world’s top automaker by vehicle sales raised its profit forecast for the year through March 2011, albeit modestly, to 350 billion yen ($4.3 billion) from an earlier forecast for 340 billion yen ($4.2 billion) profit.

That would mark a 67 per cent rebound from the previous year, when the maker of the Prius hybrid and the Camry sedan was hit hard by the recall woes. But that’s a shadow of what it used to rake in during its heyday.

Toyota raised its global vehicle sales forecast for the full year to 7.41 million vehicles from 7.38 million. That would be a 2.4 per cent gain from 7.24 million vehicles sold the previous year.

Toyota said it was more upbeat about sales in Japan, the rest of Asia and Europe, but lowered its forecast for North American sales by 80,000 vehicles.

“We continue to suffer a strong backlash from the repercussions,” said Executive Vice President Satoshi Ozawa of the quality problems. “The situation may be tough for us, but we will try to sell one car at a time.”

Over the past year, Toyota has recalled more than 11 million vehicles around the world for a range of problems, including faulty gas pedals, floor mats that can trap accelerators, defective braking and stalling engines.

On Thursday, Toyota recalled 135,000 compact cars in Japan and Europe for a software problem that could cause power steering to stop working.

More In: Companies | Business