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Delay in festive season causes September sales to skid for most…

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Delay in festive season causes September sales to skid for most…

 September has been a good month for most of the auto companies (mainly the 4 wheelers) as they have started getting ready for the festive season lined up during the next two months. Dealers are stuffed with inventory to catch the festive demand. With new product launch M&M has clearly shown that a good product portfolio attracts demand defying macro hurdles, while Maruti Suzuki has posted an unexpected performance as Manesar plant is back to normal and has in fact started second shift of operation. However, macros still remain weak for Maruti and valuations look stretched. Tata Motors though posted a negative growth, its negativity was insignificant as LCV segment excelled again. On the other hand, 2 wheelers have posted a dismal show in September as inventory pile up fear has come true leading to lesser push to the dealers’ end. Also, the sales in September were down yoy as in last year, the festivals were spaced out and had already started in September.  Hero, Bajaj and TVS Motors all have posted a yoy decline, while the latter has posted a good sequential growth. We expect the next couple of months to be strong for the industry and somewhat improve the full year performance.

 Ashok Leyland – (TP- Rs 25, Neutral) – MHCVs dip, Dost excels

In September, ALL’s MHCV sales dipped by 12% yoy to 7,596 units, while the LCV Dost sold 3,027 units v/s 197 units last year when it was just launched. Including Dost, the total sales increased by 21% yoy and 13% mom to 10,623 units. This clearly signifies that amidst pain in the MHCV segment, LCVs are still holding the forte strongly for ALL. YTD, the company has posted a 33% growth to 57,327 units mainly on the back of the LCV Dost, which was launched only in October last year.

 Bajaj Auto – (TP – Rs 1825, Neutral) – Exports recovery on track

Bajaj Auto’s September sales came 14% down on yoy basis to 3,60,152 units, while there was a mom improvement of 4%. Motorcycle sales de-grew by 15% yoy despite the new Pulsar 200 NS and Discover 125ST putting up a good show ( sold 9,000 units and 35,000 units respectively) in this month. Exports are seeing a mom recovery while on yoy basis the dip is narrowed to just 6% as Bajaj Auto sold 133,222 units with Sri Lankan and Egyptian markets almost up to their normal monthly run-rate. We expect full recovery from October onwards in exports and negative growth in domestic market to correct somewhat from the upcoming couple of festive months.

 Hero MotoCorp – (Under Review) – Solid dip

HMCL’s September sales nosedived by 26% yoy and 9% mom to 4,04,787 lakh units in September ahead of festive season which we believe is an attempt to clear off inventory and newly start stuffing the dealers with fresh inventory along with new models to catch the festive demand. Also the management has cited this dip as the current sentiment in the 2W industry. We expect demand to get back in full form from October onwards.

 Mahindra and Mahindra – (TP- Rs895, Neutral) – Consistent auto business, FES sees month on month uptick

M&M sold 48,342 units in the auto segment, 10% growth yoy and a 5% mom growth. Passenger UV sales in the month grew by 22% yoy to 23,808 units, which was a 15% mom growth. The UV sales growth came on the back of ramp up in the production of XUV5oo and a pan India launch of the same in June. Also the compact SUV Quanto was launched which has received a warm response, as its order backlog is at 3,000 vehicles currently. 4W pick-up segment which includes Gio, Genio and Maxximo posted a 7% growth yoy as the LCV segment continued to grow at a strong pace indicating strong demand in the sub 1 tonne market despite a slowdown in the bigger version of the CV sector. 3Ws went back to negative growth after a strong August, as sales declined by 17% yoy. Exports grew by a 3% yoy to 3,079 units as XUV5oo was launched in South Africa in August and traction was seen from geographies like Chile, Africa, Middle East and the US. FES segment posted a better than expected performance as the company sold 20,085 units in September which was a 24% yoy decline, however it was a whopping 52% rise mom. Although YTD FES segment has fallen by 7%, we expect second half to show some improvement on expectations of a strong rabi crop.

 Maruti Suzuki – (TP – Rs 1,123, Underperformer)-Surprising stuff!!

Maruti Suzuki (Maruti)‘s sales in this month came at 93,988 units up by 74% mom and 10% yoy which was much better than our as well as market’s expectations.  In a scenario where petrol prices are moving up, the bread and butter segment, the mini segment of Maruti comprising Alto, Wagon R and A Star grew by 4.9% yoy as the company is preparing for the festive season, while the company is providing >10% discounts on Alto and Wagon R. The compact hatchback segment comprising Swift, Ritz and Estillo has seen a fall of 9.7% yoy as diesel prices have seen a hike in the month while on the other hand, production at Manesar is slowly getting back to normal.  Dzire model which had been a star performer for Maruti succumbed to the lockout and declined by 60.7% yoy in August. But in September it came back to its old glory as it grew by 24.3% yoy. Vans segment grew in the positive territory after several months, as it went up by 7.5% yoy as vehicles such as Omni and Eeco showed some improvement. MPV segment, backed by the newly launched Ertiga sold 7,224 units thus maintaining its high demand base of ~7,000 units. SX4 model grew by about 46.9% yoy although the model has seen strong pressures over the past year as competition from Vento, City and Verna has increased. Exports looked weak this month again as they fell by 23% yoy. Although September sales were strong, and the next couple of months will continue to remain so, the company will still underperform on a full year basis as fuel prices are zooming up and interest rates are yet to cool off. At current price point, the stock looks overvalued to us.

 Tata Motors – (TP- Rs298, BUY)- Numbers above expectations

September sales for the company were lower by 4% yoy, while on mom basis, it went up by 5%. CV sales grew by 5% yoy, out of which LCV sales were up by 19% yoy signifying LCV segment’s defiance of the macro uncertainties. New launches like the variant of Ace Zip led to the growth in LCV. MHCV sales however slipped by 16% yoy as macro weaknesses continued to trouble in the month. PV segment sales fell by 18% yoy while an improvement is expected in festive season. Nano segment grew by 87% yoy to 5,491 units, while it was an 15% decline on a mom basis.  Indica range fell by 23% yoy while Indigo products posted 26% decline yoy. Utility segment sales were by 15% yoy.

 TVS Motor – (TP- Rs 32, Underperformer)- Aberration!

TVS sold 1.71 lakh units in September which was better than our expectations. This was a 10% mom growth and a de-growth of 22% yoy. Motorcycles de-grew by 29% yoy to 63,832 units, while scooters de-grew by 28% yoy to 40,055 units. 3 Wheelers improved drastically as it touched record high of 5,005 units a growth of 36% yoy.  We believe this to be a 2-3 months affair on account of festive season and the stock would in our view  remain an underperformer.

 

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4-Wheelers marching ahead in March…

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4-Wheelers marching ahead in March…

The month of March witnessed an expected surge in auto volumes as pre budget buying was prevailing in the first half of the month and since there was no negative news for diesel cars except the expected hike of 2% in the excise duty across the board, the cheer continued in the second half as well. Seasonally a strong month – March saw companies like Tata Motors, Maruti and M&M (our top picks in that order) post all time high monthly sales numbers with each of their segments performing well. With Tata Motors touching the magic figure of 1 lakh, Maruti crossing its pre strike volume number and M&M with its new launches helping them to put up a record high in UV sales the auto industry saw a firm uptick. On the other hand, TVS continued its disappointment, signaling that Honda is taking its toll on their performance . Each of their segments saw a sharp fall in growth- thus showing fundamental weakness. TVS’s peers also posted a subdued show, however better than TVS. 2 wheeler companies have given a word of caution stating that they are still in a slowdown mode and there is nothing motivating to predict a bullish overtone to the 2 wheeler space in the coming year as of yet.

 

Ashok Leyland (TP – Rs30, Neutral)

Ashok Leyland’s March sales exceeded our expectations, as they sold 14,285 units, a growth of 17% yoy. This constituted the newly launched LCV Dost which sold 2,211 units, while the actual MHCV volumes declined by 0.8% yoy to 12,074 units. However, MHCV sales grew by 27% mom and LCV sales grew by 40% mom. The total sales surpassed Ashok Leyland’s full year target of 1 lakh units. In FY 12, the company grew at a pace of 8.4%. The company sold 94,416 MHCVs and 7,593 LCVs in FY12. Improvement in South Indian markets will remain a key to success in FY13.

 

Bajaj Auto (TP – Rs 1,620, Neutral)

Bajaj posted just 9% yoy growth in March and a 4% dip on mom basis. Motorcycles grew by 10% yoy while 3 wheelers grew by 4% yoy. Despite March being a strong month for auto industry, Bajaj like its peers posted a soft performance, below our expectations. In FY 12, the growth was 14%, while the company estimates to grow at 15% in FY 13, which we believe is a bit too optimistic considering the difficult operating environment in the midst of a slowdown. Exports of the company will also feel the heat with Sri Lanka (20% of exports) increasing import duties.

 

Hero Motocorp (TP- Rs 2,000, Neutral)

Hero posted a flattish growth in March at 5.28 lakh units, while on a yoy basis it was a growth of just 2%. The subdued performance of two wheelers signifies slowdown and sluggishness in the domestic two wheeler industry. However, competition from Honda may eat up the market share of TVS ( which has already started to happen), followed by Bajaj and then compete with Hero as the gap between the scale of Hero and Honda is very wide. Hence, we believe that within 2 wheelers, Hero is one of the stocks to look at.

 

Mahindra and Mahindra – (TP- Rs783, BUY) – Auto segment sails through, FES segment recovers…

M&M sold 47,001 units in the auto segment, a 25% growth yoy which was a stellar figure for M&M, a record high. This performance was better than our expectations. Passenger UV sales in the month grew by 30% yoy to 21,257 units, which was 14% growth mom. The strong sales on the recently launched XUV 500 and the new Xylo led to this strong growth. 4W pick-up segment which includes Gio, Genio and Maxximo posted a robust 28% growth yoy as the LCV segment continued to grow at a strong pace indicating expansion in the total sub 1 tonne LCV market. Verito sales were strong in the month at 1,763 units up a mammoth 73% yoy v/s 1,619 units in February. Export sales moved up by 31% yoy  to 2,659 units, however, this was flattish mom. Farm Equipment Segment (FES) which had posted a very robust growth of 71% in October almost halved in November, and moved down even further to 15,315 units in December and continued to go down with a negative growth of 6% yoy in January. This negativity went further deep in February, as M&M reported 20% dip in this month on issues of increasing delinquencies on the agri credit, slowdown of farm yields and overall tepid growth in Indian economy. However, March showed some revival in tractor sales on a mom basis, as they sold 17,405 units, almost a 15% growth mom. However, yoy they declined by 12%.  In FY 12, the company’s auto sales grew by 28%, while FES ended the year with just 10%, v/s 17-18% projected growth by management in October.

 

Maruti Suzuki – (TP – Rs 1,475, BUY)- Performance in line with expectations.

Maruti Suzuki (Maruti)‘s sales in this month came at 125,952 units as compared to 121,952  units, 3.3% growth on yoy basis, while on mom basis it was up by 6%. In a scenario where petrol prices are moving up, the bread and butter segment, the mini segment of Maruti comprising Alto, Wagon R and A Star de-grew by 10% yoy. The compact segment comprising Swift, Ritz and Estilo showed a solid growth of 23.6% as demand for diesel cars is moving northwards on the backdrop of gap between petrol and diesel prices increasing and the production of high demand new Swift getting back to normalcy of >17,000 units per month.  Vans segment grew by 146% yoy as the pre-launch dispatches of Ertiga started in March itself. Only the SX4 model faced a huge decline of about 58.1% yoy as there was dearth of diesel engines. Exports grew by 14.7% yoy, while growing at 17% mom to sell 13,228 units with non European geographies like Asia-Pacific, CIS countries and Africa showing growth momentum . In line with the new Dzire model launched in February, it has started creating a base of 15000-16000 units per month as it grew 60% yoy to 16,541 units in March. Any rate cut by the central bank of India may have a positive impact on the volumes, while petrol price hike will impact sales adversely. Status quo maintained on diesel cars taxation is a good news for Maruti and the cheer is expected to continue in coming months though 2% excise duty hike getting passed on have made cars costlier. State level levy of extra excise duty on cars will impact sales in those states in coming months(eg:- Maharashtra). Expansion of diesel engine capacities will help the company to cater to the bludgeoning demand for diesel cars. In FY 12, Maruti’s sales de-grew by 10.8% on competition, fuel price hikes, interest rate increase and strikes at the Manesar plant.

 

Tata Motors – (TP- Rs318, BUY)- Record high!

March sales for the company were at a record high of 100,414 units, 20.5% up yoy and 9% up mom. CV sales grew by a healthy 16.7% yoy, out of which LCV sales were up by a healthy 37% yoy signifying LCV segment’s defiance of the macro uncertainties. New launches like the variant of Ace Zip led to the growth in LCV. MHCV sales however slipped by 5.8% yoy while growing by 13.7% mom. PV segment sales have started to pick up since last quarter as they grew by 33.6% yoy on strength coming from Indica range which was up 64.6% yoy mainly on prebuying effect of budget and on new launch of Indica Vista launched a quarter back. Utility segment sales went up by 40.5% yoy. Indigo range sales were also up by 15% after underperforming in February. Nano sales were the star performer as they grew smartly up at 10,475 units, 20.3% up yoy and 13.6% mom. Continued strength in CV business aided by LCVs and robust PV sales have led to a continuous solid growth in volumes of the company. Total FY 12 growth of the company has been 13.3%.              

 

TVS Motor – (TP- Rs 50, Neutral)- Seasonally up… though the broad picture remains negative

TVS sold 1.83 lakh units in March in line with our subdued estimate. This was a de-growth of 4% yoy and a growth of 6% mom. Motorcycles de-grew by 17% yoy, while scooters fell by 7.6% yoy. However, the low cost mopeds performed well by growing 16% yoy. 3 Wheelers have continued their underperformance as they declined 33% yoy and 26.5% mom. In FY 12, TVS sales grew by just 7.9%. With rising competition in the scooter segment from Honda, M&M and Suzuki, slowdown in motorcycle segment and structural weakness in 3 Wheeler segment , we continue to believe that TVS will be a laggard in the 2W segment.