Hero MotoCorp Q4 profit falls 5 pct as rivals hit market share

MUMBAI, April 26 Fri Apr 26, 2013 6:21am EDT

MUMBAI, April 26 (Reuters) - India's Hero MotoCorp said quarterly profit fell 4.9 percent, its third straight quarter of profit decline, as sales growth slowed amid rising competition that has dented its market share.

The country's largest motorcycle manufacturer beat street estimates for the first quarter in six, reporting net profit of 5.74 billion rupees ($106 million)for the three months to end-March.

Analysts had produced an average net profit forecast of 4.98 billion rupees, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Net sales rose 1.8 percent to 60.72 billion rupees, though sales of vehicles fell 2.8 percent.

Since splitting from Honda Motor Co Ltd in 2011, Hero has been forced to invest heavily in its design and technology divisions, as well as contend with increased competition from its former partner and other Japanese manufacturers Yamaha Motor Co Ltd and Suzuki Motor Corp

Sales of motorcycles in India were flat in the financial year just ended as hikes in fuel prices and subdued economic growth dampened demand, but they are forecast to rise between 6 and 8 percent in the current year, according to an industry body.

($1 = 54.1900 Indian rupees) (Reporting by Henry Foy; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)

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