MUMBAI Bajaj Auto Ltd(BAJA.NS) saw its prized profit margin slip in the quarter to December, sending its shares down despite hitting estimates with a 3 percent rise in quarterly earnings, as rising costs and a fall in exports crimped earnings.
Bajaj, India's second largest motorcycle manufacturer by sales volume, saw its EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation) margin - trumpeted as the best in the industry - fall to 20.1 percent from 21.0 percent in the same quarter a year ago, as lucrative export sales slipped 2 percent.
Shares in the automaker, also the world's largest manufacturer of motorised three-wheeled vehicles, fell as much as 2.7 percent after the results were released.
Bajaj's stock recovered slightly and was trading down 2 percent at 3:27 p.m., on a Mumbai market down 0.8 percent.
EBITDA margins were seen declining 50 basis points, according to a recent report by Anand Rathi Shares & Securities in Mumbai.
"In other international markets (excluding Africa), demand remained subdued," Bajaj said in a statement.
In India, where Bajaj sells around 70 percent of its motorbikes, demand has slumped due to high interest rates and rising ownership costs.
The country's automotive industry association this month cut its motorcycle sales growth forecast for the financial year that ends in March to 3-5 percent, from 5-7 percent earlier.
Net profit for the Oct-Dec quarter rose 3 percent to 8.19 billion rupees, in line with analysts' estimates, as net sales rose 10 percent to 53.1 billion rupees.
(Reporting by Henry Foy; Editing by Anand Basu and Daniel Magnowski)
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