Positive momentum in sales adds more teeth to auto sector

Auto sales in Feb’18 largely met the expectations. Demand remained robust across key segments. CV, two-wheeler and tractor sales were particularly strong, driven by the recovery in rural sentiment and increase in infrastructure activity. Even in the passenger vehicle (PV) segment, sales growth in smaller towns/rural areas outpaced demand in urban areas.

Industry leader MSIL dispatched 150,000 vehicles in domestic and exports, posting 15 per cent YoY growth. While Hyundai, M&M and Toyota PV sales were up 5 per cent /8 per cent /3 per cent YoY, respectively, Tata Motors posted 45 per cent growth led by robust demand for recently-introduced products. In the two-wheeler segment, TVS, Bajaj Auto and Eicher Motors (RE) reported strong double-digit growth in dispatches with sales up 36 per cent/21 per cent/25 per cent YoY, respectively (including domestic and exports). The three-wheeler segment (domestic + exports) continued its strong growth trajectory.

In the CV segment, both Tata Motors and Ashok Leyland posted over 20 per cent wholesale growth, driven by the increase in infrastructure activity and ban on overloading. In the tractors segment, M&M posted 36 per cent YoY growth, while Escorts grew 52 per cent.

PV dispatches on expected lines: New models and robust rural demand led to positive sales momentum continuing in the PV segment. Industry leader MSIL dispatched c.138k vehicles in the domestic market, reporting 14 per cent YoY growth. Export sales grew 25 per cent YoY. MSIL continues to see strong demand for its new models with healthy waitlist (Baleno: 8weeks, Brezza: 10weeks, Dzire: 4weeks). These new models in the compact segment and Vitara Brezza and recently refreshed S-Cross in the UV segment helped MSIL post 39 per cent and 14 per cent growth in their respective segments. Mid-size segment (Ciaz) posted a 17 per cent decline (affected by hybrid tax hike). Retail sales were similar to wholesales, leading to no meaningful change in the network inventory. With some regions witnessing festive period in March, focus on retail sales will remain high. Hyundai, M&M and Toyota reported sales growth of 5 per cent/8 per cent/3 per cent YoY, respectively. Tata Motors PV sales were up 45 per cent led by continued traction in new models: Tiago, Tigor, Hexa and recently-introduced compact SUV Nexon. With healthy new model traction and rural recovery, it is expected that the PV segment register double-digit growth in FY18/19.

Two wheelers – Domestic and export sales firing on all cylinders: In two-wheelers (2W), Hero Motocorp sold 629k units (+20 per cent YoY), as against 524k units in Feb’17, primarily led by positive rural sentiment and low base due to demonetisation impact. Bajaj Auto reported total motorcycles sales of c.297k units (domestic + export), with a growth of 21 per cent YoY. Domestic motorcycle sales stood at 175k units (up 23 per cent YoY) improving further on a month-on-month basis led by increasing sales of recently introduced products.

During the month, motorcycle exports grew by 19 per cent YoY. Overall growth was also aided by improving three-wheelers sales in both domestic and export market. TVS Motors posted strong 92 per cent /36 per cent YoY growth in motorcycles and scooters respectively on a low base and aided by strong exports. Overall growth including 3Ws stood at 37 per cent. On a MoM basis, 2W volumes grew 13 per cent. Royal Enfield (RE) sales stood at 73k units, up 25 per cent YoY. On Feb 28, the company launched the fully revamped version of the Thunderbird (in both 350 and 500cc versions). It is expected that the 2W industry will post 12-14 per cent YoY in FY18 as rural sales gain traction.

CVs – riding the wave: MHCV segment continues to witness healthy sales growth due to pick up in infrastructure development, ban on overloading in states such as UP and Rajasthan, leading to demand for higher tonnage vehicles. Consequently, Tata Motors MHCV (goods) segment grew by 25 per cent with greater acceptance of its SCR technology. Ashok Leyland MHCV sales were up 21 per cent while LCV segment posted 63 per cent growth (on a low base). VECV reported growth of 26 per cent YoY. In tractors, M&M posted 36 per cent YoY growth while Escorts grew 52 per cent.

Source: JM Financial Institutional Securities