Tata Motors Q1 net falls 30 pct on fx, input costs

MUMBAI - Tata Motors Ltd, India's top vehicle maker, saw its June quarter profit drop 30 percent, in line with forecasts, on foreign exchange losses and as rising input costs squeezed margins.



By (Reuters)

Published: Wed 30 Jul 2008, 6:25 PM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 1:01 PM

Tata Motors, which is due to launch the Nano, the world's cheapest car, around October, expects margins to remain under pressure due to costs of inputs such as steel, chief financial officer C. Ramakrishnan told a news conference on Wednesday.

Cost overruns on the Nano project and Tata Motors' plans to raise $1.7 billion through rights issues to fund its recently completed $2.3 billion purchase of Jaguar and Land Rover knocked the firm's shares to 3-year lows earlier this month.

Ramakrishnan said the company sold a 24 percent stake in its auto parts unit, Tata AutoComp Systems Ltd, and booked a profit of 1.14 billion rupees ($27 million) in the quarter end June 30.

However, that was more than offset by a 2 billion rupee foreign exchange loss as the rupee's fall affected the value of foreign debt issues. The rupee fell 6.8 percent against the dollar in the quarter after rising more than 12 percent in 2007.

Tata Motors, which has about 60 percent of India's truck and bus market, said April-June net profit fell to 3.26 billion rupees ($77 million) from 4.67 billion rupees a year earlier.

Net sales rose to 69.28 billion rupees from 60.57 billion.

A Reuters poll had forecast net profit of 3.20 billion rupees on net sales of 65.70 billion rupees.

Operating margin, a gauge of business profitability, fell to 7.7 percent from 9.0 percent a year earlier.

Competition

Tata Motors, also India's No.3 car maker after Maruti Suzuki and South Korea's Hyundai Motor, has manufacturing and distribution ventures with Fiat.

It sold 127,361 vehicles in the June quarter, up just 3 percent on a year earlier, and the outlook will not have been helped by Tuesday's central bank tightening to quell double-digit inflation, as car loan interest rates are likely to rise.

Tata Motors, which expects demand for the Nano to outpace initial capacity of 250,000 units, is also looking at building an electric car as well as a model that uses compressed air.

It may also build a more fuel-efficient Nano for its eco-project in Thailand, Chairman Ratan Tata has said.

Tata Motors, which made its first car about a decade back, is facing more competition from local and foreign rivals in Asia's third-largest economy.

Motorbike maker Bajaj Auto is building a $2,500 car with Renault and Nissan Motor, while others including Ford Motor, General Motors and Toyota, also plan to make affordable small cars.

In commercial vehicles, second-ranked Ashok Leyland will make light trucks with Nissan Motor, while Bajaj is in talks with Renault to take on Tata's Ace. Daimler has a venture with the Hero Group, while Mahindra & Mahindra is joining up with a unit of Navistar.

Mahindra on Wednesday reported an unexpected 16.8 percent drop in quarterly profit to 1.59 billion rupees, also hurt by foreign exchange losses and high input cost.

Shares in Tata Motors, worth nearly $4 billion, rose 4.9 percent to 416.30 rupees in a Mumbai market that rose 3.6 percent.

The stock trades at 8.3 times forecast earnings compared to a 12.7 multiple for Mahindra, which has a market capitalisation of $3.1 billion.

Tata Motors shares fell 32 percent in April-June, more than the 21 percent drop on the autos sector sub-index .BSEAUTO and a 14 percent fall on the benchmark index.


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