* Q4 net profit at 39.45 bln rupees vs forecast 28.86 bln
* Jaguar Land Rover posts best ever quarterly sales
* Tata Motors India business revenue falls 32.5 pct
* CFO says overall economic scenario will remain stressed
By Aditi Shah
MUMBAI, May 29 India's biggest carmaker by
revenue Tata Motors Ltd posted a smaller-than-expected
drop in fourth-quarter net profit as Chinese demand for luxury
motors helped to compensate for sliding domestic sales.
Tata, which bought the upmarket Jaguar Land Rover Ltd (JLR)
for $2.3 billion in 2008, said on Wednesday JLR's profit margin
rose to 16.9 percent in the three months ended March 31 from
14.6 percent in the same period the year before, helped by a
favourable exchange rate and record quarterly sales.
Tata had previously announced that sales of Britain-made
Jaguar saloons and Land Rover sport utility vehicles (SUV) rose
18 percent to 115,504 units in the quarter.
Key to that was a 21 percent rise in sales in China, JLR's
fastest growing market. JLR accounts for more than three
quarters of Tata Motors' group revenue.
The lacklustre performance at Tata Motors' India business,
due to high interest rates and slowing economic growth, however,
remains a worry for India's biggest truck manufacturer and the
maker of the Nano, dubbed the world's cheapest car.
"We see the external environment and overall economic
scenario very, very challenging and (it) will remain stressed,"
said Tata Motors' Chief Financial Officer C. Ramakrishnan,
adding this would have an impact on demand for its products.
Car sales in India are forecast by the automakers'
association to grow by 3-5 percent in this financial year, a
rebound from the first drop in sales in a decade in 2012/13.
Tata Motors, part of the salt-to-steel Tata conglomerate,
said net profit for the January-March quarter was 39.45 billion
rupees ($705 million), down 36.7 percent on the same time the
year before, with revenue up 10 percent to 560 billion rupees.
A one-off tax gain had contributed to a significantly higher
net profit in the year-earlier quarter. Analysts had on average
expected a profit of 28.86 billion rupees on revenues of 518.51
billion, according to Thomson Reuters Starmine.
JLR's operating margins for the full fiscal year was 15.2
percent, and Ramakrishnan said the margin was expected to remain
in the range of 14-15 percent for this financial year.
Quarterly revenues for the Indian business fell 32.5 percent
to 110.68 billion rupees, as sales of its vehicles plunged 30
percent year-on-year to 184,942 units. The profit margin dropped
to 3.6 percent from 9.5 percent a year earlier.
Shares in Tata Motors closed 2.7 percent higher at 303.80
rupees before the quarterly numbers were released. The main
Mumbai market index fell 0.1 percent and the auto sector
index rose 0.3 percent.