JLR takes Tata Motors into overdrive, net up 71%

Written by fe Bureau | Mumbai | Updated: Nov 9 2013, 14:32pm hrs
The country's largest automobile manufacturer by revenue, Tata Motors on Friday beat analysts' estimates to post a 71% jump in its net profit at Rs 3,542 crore for the July-September quarter, driven by buoyant sales at its luxury unit Jaguar Land Rover (JLR).

During the period, the companys net sales were up 30% at Rs 5,5701 crore.

However, on a standalone basis that is, taking only the domestic operations of the company Tata Motors posted a net loss of R804 crore compared with a profit of R867 crore during the same period last fiscal. The loss was higher than expected a Bloomberg poll had pegged it at around R548 crore. Net sales were down 29% at R8,761 crore, marking the sixth straight quarter of decline. The company attributed the weak performance in the domestic market to a general economic slowdown, frequent diesel price hikes and a tight financing environment.

However, retail sales at JLR rose at the fastest pace in four quarters boosted by demand for Jaguar models, including the F-Type convertible that began shipping in May. JLR wholesale and retail volumes during the period grew by 31.6% and 21.1%, respectively, over the corresponding period a year earlier and stood at 101,931 units and 102,644 units, respectively.

Following strong response to its new products and powertrain options, Jaguar wholesale and retail volumes grew by 91.6% and 56.5% to 18,834 units and 20,024 units, respectively, as against 9,832 units and 12,798 units, respectively, in the corresponding quarter last year, the company said in a statement. It added that strong response to the all-new Range Rover and continued strong growth in Evoque and other products lifted Land Rover wholesale and retail volumes to 83,097 units and 82,620 units (a growth of 22.9% and 14.8% over the corresponding quarter last year).

In contrast, Tata Motors' domestic sales were lacklustre during the quarter, with the company not launching any new product in the passenger vehicle segment since 2010. Sales of its small car, Nano, are yet to take off in a big way.

Sales (including exports) of commercial and passenger vehicles during the quarter stood at 150,930 units, down 32.5% compared with the corresponding quarter last year. The company's sales in passenger vehicles declined 37% to 55,095 units while CV sales fell 28.25% to 82,771 units.

"We have more or less maintained the market share in the medium and heavy commercial vehicles business even as our volumes have halved over the last few quarters," said managing director Karl Slym.

"We have managed to achieve the right inventory levels after taking the necessary steps," he added.

"The commercial vehicle industry declined in the July-September quarter over the corresponding period last year, led by a fall of 34% in the cyclical MHCV truck segment. Further, competitive pressures on pricing in certain segments impacted the operating margins. However, the companys product and market initiatives enabled it to sustain its strong market share, the company statement said.

The domestic market has witnessed sluggish auto sales since the beginning of the current calendar year, with Tata Motors' rivals like Maruti Suzuki India and Mahindra and Mahindra also reporting a decline in sales. The Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers expects sales to end the year on a negative note.

JLR is building its first manufacturing plant outside the UK in China, as the country is expected to surpass the US as the biggest premium car market by the end of the decade.

Tata Motors, which bought JLR in 2008, expects to sell 100,000 cars in China this year compared with 77,000 cars last year.

The Tata Motors share closed up 1.29% at Rs 385 on the BSE in a weak wider market.