Jaguar propels Tata to biggest profit gain in 6 quarters

Jaguar Land Rover’s Indian parent reported its biggest profit jump in six quarters after the luxury car brand began selling new models.

Tata Motor’s profit almost tripled on the back of a better product mix. Net income was 24.8 billion rupees ($382 million) in the September quarter, up from 8.3 billion rupees a year earlier, according to a filing.

Jaguar Land Rover’s deliveries in China, its top market, expanded 27 percent, reflecting the buoyancy seen by its peers. Automakers have been offering bigger discounts and rolling out new models to entice customers, after the government’s increase of a sales tax at the start of the year deterred buyers in the world’s largest auto market. Jaguar plans to launch the less expensive Jaguar E-Pace SUV in markets including China next year.

“We will continue to focus on our strategic objective of achieving profitable, sustainable growth,” Ralf Speth, Jaguar Land Rover’s chief executive officer, said in the statement. The company has spent 1 billion pounds ($1.3 billion) on adding capacity in the quarter, he said.

The company will roll out the E-PACE, new plug-in hybrid Range Rover and Range Rover Sport in the next quarter, he said.

Jaguar Land Rover retail sales grew 5.1 percent to 149,690. Earnings margin before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization was 11.8 percent, beating the 10.6 percent estimated in a Bloomberg survey of six analysts.

Though Jaguar Land Rover’s scale is smaller than its peers, the automaker’s margins compare favorably with Mercedes, General Motors and Toyota. That’s because the company focuses on premium brands and new products, which can limit discounting.

That said, profitability is cyclical and may be more challenged in future years, as JLR and its competitors invest in engine manufacturing, vehicle architecture and new technologies, without a clear understanding of future profit pools, the company said.