Jaguar pounces for Tata Motors

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India’s Tata Motors reported a stronger-than-expected 40.5 per cent rise in quarterly profit as robust sales at Jaguar Land Rover more than made up for weakness in its home market, sending up its stock to its highest level in more than a year.

Rising demand for luxury models, especially in China and other emerging markets, has swelled Tata’s earnings over the past few quarters as demand for cars waned in India.

“JLR has shown improvements in volumes and margins in ways that were way beyond what the market expected,” said Deven Choksey, chief executive of KR Choksey Shares & Securities.

Chief financial officer C.R. Ramakrishnan said strong sales at Jaguar Land Rover reflected a better product and market mix as well as strong demand in China and Russia, especially for the new Range Rover Evoque sport utility vehicle.

Tata Motors, part of the salt-to-software Tata conglomerate, said consolidated net profit rose to 34.06 billion rupees ($691m) in the three months to December 31 from 24.24 billion a year earlier. Revenue rose 44 per cent to 452.60 billion rupees.

Tata, which also makes the ultra-cheap Nano, bought Jaguar Land Rover in 2008 from Ford Motor Co for $2.3bn, and has since turned it into its main profit driver.

Net profit in the company’s India business dropped by more than half to 1.74 billion rupees, partly as a result of higher commodity costs and more spending on marketing.

“An easing of commodity prices should see improvement on margins in the near term,” Mr Ramakrishnan said, adding that higher sales volumes would help margins in coming quarters.