Jaguar Land Rover sales fuel tripling of Tata Motors profit

The Jaguar F-Type has been a key model in lifting JLR sales.
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MUMBAI (Bloomberg) -- Tata Motors posted third-quarter net income that almost tripled to 48.1 billion rupees ($771 million) from 16.3 billion rupees a year ago as sales at its Jaguar Land Rover unit helped drive up profits.

Profit at JLR more than doubled to 619 million pounds ($1 billion), spurred by demand for the F-Type convertible and Range Rover SUVs, Tata said in a statement today. The luxury unit is helping buoy parent Tata, which is struggling to revive profitability at its Indian business that sells Tata-brand cars, buses and trucks.

Quarterly deliveries at the two British brands rose 27 percent to 112,172, JLR said today, adding that demand for the Jaguar XJ, XF, Range Rover and Range Rover Sport was particularly strong. The unit posted third-quarter revenues of 5.3 billion pounds, JLR said.

In the first nine months, retail sales at JLR climbed 19 percent to 309,535 units.

Last year, sales at the British brands rose 19 percent to a record 425,006 units, bolstered by the F-Type convertible that began shipping in May, the unit said last month.

"We like JLR's global luxury positioning and strong growth momentum," Sorabh Talwar, an analyst at HDFC Securities Ltd., wrote in a Jan. 15 note to clients. "We believe JLR is in an investment-led growth phase, driven by strong demand traction across geographies and products."

Profit at Tata Motor exceeded the 35.1 billion-rupee median of 38 analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg. Net sales rose 39 percent to 635.4 billion rupees, exceeding the 611.1 billion-rupee median of estimates.

Slym's death

Karl Slym, the Tata Motors managing director who headed the company except for Jaguar Land Rover, fell to his death last month. Slym had led efforts to revive profitability at the Indian business as it lost market share to Maruti Suzuki India Ltd. and the local unit of Hyundai Motor Co.

Tata's domestic passenger vehicle deliveries fell 37 percent in the nine months through December, the most among automakers that report monthly sales to the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers. The company's truck sales have dropped 25 percent in the same period.

Tata Motors' two new small cars to be introduced this year, the Bolt hatchback and the Zest, an entry-level sedan, could help revive the automaker's flagging sales, according to Moody's Investors Service. Together with a new gasoline engine, the styling and features offered by the Bolt and Zest make the company much better placed to compete with peers such as Maruti Suzuki, Hyundai Motor and Mahindra & Mahindra, which have been eroding Tata Motors' market share, Moody's said Feb. 10.

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