New models bring back Maruti magic

New Delhi, Jan. 25: Maruti Suzuki, the country's largest car maker, today reported an over two-fold jump in third-quarter net profit, its first increase in 18 months following a period marked by workers' strike, plant shutdowns and demand slowdown.

Net profit for the third quarter ended December 2012 stood at Rs 501.29 crore compared with Rs 205.62 crore during the same period last fiscal.

Maruti, controlled by Japan's Suzuki Motor Corp, said net sales during the period under review stood at Rs 10,956.95 crore, up 45.57 per cent from Rs 7,527.10 crore in the year-ago period.

Maruti sold 27 per cent more cars in the quarter, partly helped by strong sales of the cheaper and more fuel-efficient version of the Alto, the world's best-selling small car, during the festival season of October-November.

The profit grew because of higher sales and positive response to new models such as utility vehicle Ertiga and the sedan Swift DZire, Maruti said in a statement, adding that cost cuts also helped.

Sales during the third quarter this fiscal stood at 3,01,453 units compared with 2,39,528 units in the corresponding period of the previous year, up 25.85 per cent.

According to the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers, car sales this fiscal are set to post their lowest growth in nine years. High interest rates, rising fuel prices and slowing economic growth are hurting the market.

During the quarter under review, Maruti sold 2,68,957 units in the domestic market compared with 2,11,803 units, a growth of 26.98 per cent.

It exported 32,496 units during the quarter, up 17.21 per cent from 27,725 units in the year-ago period.

"The growth in net sales was on account of higher volumes, a favourable model mix and enhanced export realisation," Maruti said.

During the quarter, the company's total expenses went up 39.86 per cent to Rs 10,667.40 crore from Rs 7,627.32 crore in the corresponding quarter of the previous year.

It spent Rs 8,376.04 crore on raw materials compared with Rs 5,866.26 crore in the same period last fiscal, up 42.78 per cent, the statement said.

Cheering the smart earnings numbers, shares of Maruti Suzuki India rose more than 4 per cent to settle at Rs 1,600.20 on the BSE today. During the day, the stock touched a 52-week high of Rs 1,607.65.

On the NSE, the stock rose 4.17 per cent to Rs 1,603. The scrip was the top gainer among Sensex stocks.

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