* Q4 net profit flat, misses estimates
* Expects car sales to pick up in H2-FY15
* Indian business records loss of 8.17 bln rupees
(Adds financial details, company comments, background)
By Aradhana Aravindan and Aditi Shah
MUMBAI/NEW DELHI, May 29 Tata Motors Ltd
, India's biggest carmaker by revenue, reported flat
fourth-quarter net profit on Thursday, with strong sales of
luxury Jaguar and Land Rover vehicles offsetting losses and a
big sales drop in its sluggish home market.
But this month's victory for Narendra Modi's Bharatiya
Janata Party in India's election has raised hopes that stalled
economic reforms will get back on track and boost growth in
Asia's third-largest economy.
Tata is hopeful this will translate into higher sales of its
trucks and buses in India, where it is the market leader for
"We believe the economic sentiment will improve ... in the
first half, leading to more positive and direct impact on our
industry and our sales in the second half of this year," C.
Ramakrishnan, Tata's chief financial officer, told reporters.
Tata Motors's luxury arm Jaguar Land Rover Ltd (JLR)
has helped make up for weak sales in India where
high car ownership costs and sluggish economic growth has
deterred buyers of cars and commercial vehicles.
But in this fiscal year, India's car sales are likely to
rise marginally after two consecutive years of declines, spurred
by more rapid economic expansion and tax cuts under a new
government, an industry body said last month.
Tata Motors reported net profit of 39.18 billion rupees
($665.48 million) for the January-March quarter, compared with
39.45 billion rupees a year ago, due to a foreign exchange loss
of 3.55 billion rupees. Net sales rose 16 percent to 647.16
Analysts had on average expected a profit of 46.37 billion
rupees, according to Thomson Reuters Starmine.
Quarterly losses at Tata's Indian business widened to 8.17
billion rupees from 3.12 billion rupees a year ago, as sales of
its vehicles plunged 33 percent due to high interest rates and
inflation and rising fuel costs.
To try to revive sales in India, Tata will launch the Bolt
hatchback and Zest entry-level sedan later this year to tap into
the small car market that accounts for the bulk of passenger
vehicle sales in India.
Tata's luxury business in Britain, which it bought from Ford
Motor Co in 2008, has thrived by focusing on China, the
world's largest auto market.
Sales of its British-made Jaguar saloons and Land Rover
sport utility vehicles (SUVs) rose 34 percent in China to
103,077 in the fiscal year ended March 31, more than it sold in
North America and Europe over the same period, according to the
company's website. It sold a total of 434,311 cars in the last
fiscal year, a 16 percent rise.
Net profit rose 19 percent in the January-March quarter to
449 million pounds ($750 million) compared with year ago period.
Revenues rose 6 percent to 5.35 billion pounds.
The company, part of the $100 billion Tata conglomerate,
expects to start operating a new manufacturing facility in China
later this year which will reduce the strain on its plants in
Britain and ensure it has the capacity to meet growing demand.
"We will continue to invest in more products and new
technologies to meet consumer and regulatory requirements and
build manufacturing capacities in the U.K. and internationally,"
($1 = 58.8750 Indian Rupees)
($1 = 0.5986 British Pounds)
(Writing by Aditi Shah; Editing by Jane Merriman)