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Tata Motors quarterly profit more than doubles

India's Tata Motors said on Monday its quarterly profit more than doubled, thanks to reviving demand for both commercial and passenger vehicles and low commodity costs. The results do not include data for Tata's troubled Jaguar and Land Rover subsidiaries.

autos Updated: Oct 26, 2009 21:18 IST

India's Tata Motors said on Monday its quarterly profit more than doubled, thanks to reviving demand for both commercial and passenger vehicles and low commodity costs. The results do not include data for Tata's troubled Jaguar and Land Rover subsidiaries.

Net profit for the quarter that ended in September was 7.29 billion rupees ($156.4 million), up 110 percent from 3.47 billion rupees the same quarter last year, far outpacing analyst expectations.

India's largest commercial vehicle maker said revenues for the quarter rose 12.7 percent over the same period last year, to 79.79 billion rupees ($1.71 billion).

Total sales, including exports, rose 17.4 percent over last year, to 151,945 vehicles, thanks to government bus-buying and India's reviving economy, which has kickstarted demand for commercial vehicles.

Operating margins expanded by 5.8 percentage points, to 13.4 percent.

Tata Motors executives said that in two days they would finish repaying the $3 billion bridge loan used to buy loss-making luxury brands Jaguar and Land Rover from Ford Motor Co. last year. "Two days from now, we will be fully repaying the balance," said chief financial officer C. Ramakrishnan.

Since October 2008, Tata Motors has been issuing equity shares and bonds, on both Indian and international markets, as well as divesting its holdings in other Tata group companies to pay down the debt.

Tata Motors had 186 billion rupees ($4 billion) in outstanding debt as of Sept. 30, excluding all subsidiaries, with a debt to equity ratio of about 1.6. Since then, it has issued $750 million of equity and bonds on global markets, bringing the debt to equity ratio to 1.34.

Vaishali Jajoo, an analyst at Mumbai's Angel Broking, said that while the company's leverage is still "on the higher side," overall the numbers look "good."

"Margins were 100 basis points above expectations," she said, adding that increasing demand for commercial vehicles will help Tata Motors maintain its profits even as raw material costs escalate. One hundred basis points equal one percentage point.

Tata Motors has so far delivered 7,506 of its super-cheap Nano cars, which sell for as little as 100,000 rupees ($2,145) plus tax and transport fees.

In response to a few recent reports that the snub-nosed mini-car has been catching fire, executives said Monday that they'd switched suppliers of the faulty electrical switch that caused the problem and done additional tests to rule out a recall or redesign. The also emphasized that while there was smoke, there was not exactly fire.

"We've taken concrete action," said non-executive vice-chairman Ravi Kant. "There have not been flames as such." But, he added: "That it occurred is a bit unfortunate."