Jaguar Land Rover returns to profit with sales gains

Jaguar Land Rover returns to profit with sales gains expected

Jaguar Land Rover's I-PACE concept car is seen on display. Credit: Reuters

By Anurag Kotoky

The fortunes of Jaguar Land Rover Automotive Plc are improving with sales already back at pre-Covid levels in some markets and the British luxury carmaker posting its first profit in three quarters.

While its Indian owner Tata Motors Ltd. reported a wider quarterly loss of Rs 314 crore ($43 million) on Tuesday, Jaguar eked out a profit of 65 million pounds ($85 million) before tax for the three months ended Sept. 30 and said it expects cash flow to be positive in the second half.

Read | JLR to launch electric Jaguar I-PACE in India in early 2021

Shares of Tata Motors jumped as much as 5.6% to their highest level in almost three weeks on Wednesday.

The coronavirus pandemic has hurt sales of automakers across the world as government-imposed lockdowns shuttered factories and people stayed at home, curbing spending. The situation is more severe in India, where carmakers were already going through their worst-ever slowdown. Jaguar’s improving performance is a bright spot for the group, helping to cushion Tata Motors from the crisis.

Tata Motors’ stock is “about to leave the beaten track,” analysts at Emkay Global Financial Services Ltd. led by Raghunandan N.L. wrote in a note Wednesday, upgrading their recommendation to buy. Shares in Tata Motors are down 26% this year.

Sales at Jaguar should pick up in the third quarter as the division launches new products and demand improves in China, which has largely contained the virus, the analysts said.

Risks however include the resurgent virus in Europe and the US, uncertainties around next week’s US presidential election, and Brexit, or the withdrawal of the UK from the European Union, according to analysts at Citigroup Inc.

That could mean the second half may be a bit of a “roller coaster,” Citigroup’s Arvind Sharma said. The bank still rates Tata Motors a buy, along with 19 other analysts tracked by Bloomberg. Eight have hold recommendations and there are nine sells.

Jaguar is preparing for a messy and complicated transition period regardless of how Brexit trade negotiations shake out, according to a company planning document released in conjunction with the earnings. The company has formed a steering committee that’s staying apprised of government efforts to secure an agreement that avoids tariffs, while also planning with partners for a no-deal scenario.