* Q4 net profit 8 bln rupees vs 9.1 bln rupees analyst view
* Revenue falls 9.5 pct to 118.18 bln rupees
* Shares fall as much as 3.3 pct
(Adds executive comments, outlook)
By Aditi Shah and Aradhana Aravindan
NEW DELHI/MUMBAI, April 25 Maruti Suzuki India
Ltd is banking on India's general election to stoke
consumer sentiment and revive demand for vehicles, after the
country's biggest carmaker by sales posted its first profit
decline in six quarters.
Maruti Suzuki, like Tata Motors Ltd and all other
Indian automakers, has seen sluggish sales over the past two
years as high inflation pushed up prices while slow economic
growth prevented incomes from keeping pace.
Prospects of a pick-up in the economy after a new government
is installed come mid-May could spur a marginal rise in car
sales in the fiscal year that started this month, according to
an industry body.
"Like a lot of people in this country we are also hoping
that post election results, post the new government there will
be an improvement in conditions - sentiment will improve and
there will again be a revival of the car market," Chairman RC
Bhargava said after an earnings briefing on Friday.
Maruti, controlled by Japan's Suzuki Motor Corp,
said net profit fell 36 percent to 8 billion rupees ($131
million) in January-March, compared with the 9.10 billion rupees
mean estimate of 18 analysts polled by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
The decline was steep because of a one-off gain in the
year-earlier period, though it was exacerbated by reduced sales
volume, higher promotional spending and compensation paid to
dealers to offset a price decline brought about by a tax cut.
Revenue fell 9.5 percent to 118.18 billion rupees.
Shares of Maruti closed 1.3 percent lower on Friday after
falling as much as 3.3 percent, compared with a 0.8 percent loss
in the BSE Index. Since the beginning of 2014, they
have risen 10.9 percent versus the benchmark's 7.2 percent gain.
Maruti is prepared for a demand recovery thanks to having a
wide dealership network, a long reach in rural areas and a
strong pipeline of new vehicles, the latest of which being the
Celerio hatchback, analysts say.
"Maruti now embarks on its best-ever phase of new model
launches with 14 new models over 2014-18. Many of these are in
new segments for the company, such as compact SUVs, crossovers,
higher-end sedans and LCVs (light commercial vehicles)," said
brokerage Nomura in a recent research note.
"Thus, the growth visibility for Maruti appears high,"
Mumbai-based analysts for Nomura said.
Maruti on Friday said without elaborating that it expects to
launch three vehicles in the current fiscal year.
The company makes vehicles at factories in Manesar and
Gurgaon in northern India and plans to seek shareholder approval
to source vehicles from a plant to be set up by parent Suzuki.
Maruti changed some terms of the plan to satisfy investors
who favoured in-house production, and Suzuki may have to invest
an extra 30 billion rupees as a result, Bhargava said. He also
said the shareholder vote would likely be after
($1 = 61.0550 Indian Rupees)
(Editing by Christopher Cushing)