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Tata Motors – Domestic growth zooms while JLR hits speed-bump



Tata Motors’ shareholders have been awaiting a turnaround in the domestic business for quite some time now. That has finally come through, with the domestic performance in the December quarter exceeding market expectations. However, the joy has been tempered by a subdued show from JLR (Jaguar & Land Rover). Going forward, the JLR business will face multiple headwinds on account of rapidly evolving automotive technology.

JLR – Headwinds Galore

JLR’s volume sales declined in key western markets — the UK, US and Europe — and rose in China and the rest of the world.


Part of the weakness could be blamed on the phasing out 17 models of Range Rover and Range Rover Sport. However, new variants of these models will return this year. The greater concern is increasing restrictions on diesel vehicles in Europe (the company’s European and UK portfolio being predominantly diesel).

JLR’s pre-tax profit declined from £255 mn to £192 mn due to one on one-off factors like insurance recovery of £85 mn in the base quarter and also due to higher depreciation and amortisation expense as the company continues to invest in new models and technologies.

In fact, the investments (over £1 bn) coupled with working capital outflow towards relaunches resulted in negative free cash flow of £661 mn during the quarter.

The company has forecast a better fourth quarter, but there are headwinds. Major technology changeovers will impact demand near term and warrant higher investment for the long-term. These will aggravate already tough market conditions and continue to hurt operating margins. The company has projected  £4 bn of investment for the full year.

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JLR, however, is still optimistic about 8%-9% long-term EBIT margin (current level of 2.6%) from a changed product mix, benefits of opertaing leverage and cost optimisation. We do not see this panning out in the next couple of years.

However, we feel JLR has a strong product pipeline and has an excellent track record of innovation that should give investors enough confidence about the company’s ability to weather the storm.The company is launching its first ever electric car, the Jaguar I-Pace and Range Rover plug-in hybrids.

Tata Motors – Five-star Performance

The performance of the Indian business was a big positive.  The attention of the group senior management and the implementation of the turnaround strategy is finally reflecting in the numbers. The overall volume growth of 31% was broad-based.

Tata Motors _ Q3

In the commercial vehicle market, demand for higher tonnage vehicles, increased government funding & growth in e-commerce coupled with acceptance of company’s SCR (selective catalytic reduction) technology helped.

For the passenger vehicle (PV) segment, some of the product launches like Nexon, Tiago, Togor and Hexa have been received well by customers.

The company is on track to recoup market share in both commercial and passenger vehicles.

Tata Motors_QoQ

During the quarter, the company reported pre-tax profit of Rs 201 crore as against pre-tax loss of Rs 1032 crore.

Riding on higher cash profit and favourable working capital, the company reported free cash flow of Rs 1082 crore despite high investment spending on product, platform and technology.


Given the divergent near-term outlook, we have revised our estimates. The stock has seen a sharp post-result reaction aggravated by the weakness in the broad market. Since the India business has recovered and JLR will eventually weather the rough phase, further weakness can be an opportunity to accumulate the stock. The top management has reiterated focus on domestic commercial vehicle, passenger vehicle and investment in technology at JLR as their key priorities, going forward, which should bear fruits for the long-term investors.

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