India’s Bajaj Auto posts sluggish Q2 revenue growth on weak demand

By Nandan Mandayam

BENGALURU (Reuters) -Bajaj Auto on Wednesday reported its slowest second-quarter revenue growth in three years, which also missed estimates, as price hikes failed to offset weak demand in rural India, which accounts for 55% of total two-wheeler sales.

The maker of the “Pulsar” range of motocycles is the first to report results among India’s two-wheeler makers.

Bajaj’s revenue for the three months to Sept. 30 rose 5.6% to 107.77 billion rupees ($1.29 billion), but came in lower than analysts’ expectations of 109.08 billion rupees, according to LSEG data.

Amit Hiranandani, automobile sector lead analyst at brokerage SMIFS said he was betting on a better second half of fiscal 2024 for Bajaj with export volumes gradually rising and the festive season boost to domestic demand.

“Growth (for the rest of fiscal 2024) will be led by mix and marginal pricing,” Bajaj Chief Financial Officer Dinesh Thapar said in a post-earnings call, referring to its margin-boosting premium motorcycles and commercial vehicles.

Thapar also said the company was planning to begin exports of the Triumph Speed 400 and newly-launched Scrambler 400 X models by December or January. He, however, declined to disclose the markets being considered for these shipments.

Bajaj, however, topped profit estimates and saw margins grow to 19.8% from 17.2% last year, with better sales of premium motorcycles.

Commercial vehicles sales jumped 31%, also raising its share in quarterly volumes by 500 basis points from a year before to 16.4%.

Bajaj’s overall sales volume slid 8%, with two-wheeler volumes falling 13% during the quarter.

($1 = 83.2360 Indian rupees)

(Reporting by Nandan Mandayam in Bengaluru; Editing by Sohini Goswami)