Tata Motors (NYSE: TTM) has been on a roll lately, it is now the biggest car manufacturer in the United Kingdom and its sales are growing like crazy.
Its’ luxury brands; Jaguar and Land Rover, sales increased by 32% in China, 24% in North America, 16% in the UK and 13% in Europe between March 2016 and March 2017, The Guardian reported. Tata’s Jaguar Land Rover division enjoyed the best year in its history in the 12 months that ended in March with sales of 604,009 vehicles.
Jaguar is even giving Porsche a run for its money in the US luxury car market, Bloomberg Pursuits reported. Jag’s F-Pace SUV actually outsold the Porsche Cayenne over the past yearyear and got within striking range of another Porsche SUV the Macan.
That helped Jaguar sales more than double in the United States over the past year, Bloomberg noted. Americans purchased 14,606 Jags between first quarter 2016 and first quarter 2017.
Electric Jaguar Coming Next Year
Tata’s first all-electric model the I-Pace is supposed to go into production next year, Car Insurance Samurai reported. The I-Pace is aimed squarely at Tesla’s X-Series SUV and it has been spotted racing around a Grand Prix track in Monaco.
If the I-Pace is as success as the F-Pace it might make Jaguar into America’s most successful luxury car brand. Jaguar has kept its momentum with its sales increasing by 140% even as overall auto sales cool.
One factor certainly driving Jaguar and Land Rover sales is China. Sales there have grown for 16 straight months and increased 19% last year, China Daily reported. Chinese bought 6,800 Land Rovers during April 2017, and Jaguar sales increased by 234%. Jaguar/Land Rover now operates more than 200 dealerships in the People’s Republic.
Tesla’s Profits are Rising
Okay so Tata Motors is one of the biggest automotive success stories but is it making money? The answer according to the earnings report data compiled by ycharts is yes.
Tata reported a net income of $1.113 billion (€990 million) in March 2017; that was down from $1.252 billion (€1.12 billion) in March 2016, but still impressive. The net income translated into a profit margin of 5.44% for first quarter 2017.
That’s excellent for the auto industry where Honda Motors (NYSE: HMC) reported a profit margin of 2.55% for the same period. It is still below General Motors (NYSE: GM) profit margin of 6.33% but more than Ford’s (NYSE: F) 4.05% profit margin. Most importantly the profit margin is up .44% from March 2016, when it was 5%.
Values should take note of the profit margin because Tata’s revenues are growing. Tata reported $41.99 billion (€37.51 billion) in revenues for March 2017, up from $41.37 billion (€36.96 billion) for March 2016. The revenue growth seems to indicate that Tata might be bucking auto industry trends.
Is Tata Motors Making Money?
Growing revenues and profit margins are fine, but skeptical value investors will rightly ask is Tata Motors making money? Are all the Jaguar and Land Rover sales actually translating into cash?
The answer that question is yes, Tata reported $8.122 billion (€7.26 billion) in cash and short-term investments on March 31, 2017. That was a $2.269 billion (€2.03 billion) increase over March 2016, when Tata Motors reported having $5.853 billion (€5.23 billion) in the bank.
Unfortunately cash from financing, operations and investing figures are not available for Tata because it is a British company. Free cash flow numbers are not available either.
Despite that Tata looks like a value investment because it has a lot of float in the form of cash. Tata also reported $42.21 billion (€37.71 billion) in assets on March 31, 2017, compared to $39.46 billion (€35.25 billion) in assets in March 2016.
Tata Motors is also a Good Investment
Tata is a value investment because it was rather cheap trading at $35.46 (€31.68) a share on June 9, 2017. Despite that investors took home a return on equity of 10.88% on March 31, 2017.
Although Tata is not a good dividend investment, it paid a dividend of just 1.5¢ (€.01) on July 16, 2016. That was down from the last value investment of 16¢ (€.14) on August 1, 2014. That might indicate Tata plans to increase its dividend in the future.
Even without the dividend, Tata might be undervalued. It had a market capitalization of $25.09 billion (€22.41 billion) and an enterprise value of $27.69 billion (€24.74 billion) on June 9, 2017, meaning that there might be room for growth here.
Why Brexit Might be good for Tata Motors
Strangely enough Brexit might be good for Tata if it leads to a weak pound. The Pound Sterling is down from last year. On May 31, 2016 the GDP was trading at $1.462 US dollars, on June 9, 2017, the exchange rate was $1.27199 dollars to the pound, data from Pound Sterling Live and XE.com indicates.
The cause of that decline is obvious Brexit and the June 8 general election, which have generated incredible amounts of uncertainty about the United Kingdom’s future. That helps Tata Motors by ensuring lower prices for Jags and Land Rovers in countries like the United States.
Several years of that might give Tata an exchange rate edge over German, American and Italian rivals. That edge will be magnified in developing nations like China and India where most cars are purchased for cash. This puts Tata in a great position to expand its operations in those fast growing economies.
Another factor that bodes well for Tata is the millions of aging Baby Boomers (persons born between 1945 and 1965) in countries like the USA and Australia. There are around 74.9 million boomers in the United States and 5.5 million in Australia.
Since most of them are in their 50s and their 60s, they are in prime luxury car buying age and many of them are affluent. This might be one of the factors driving Jaguar sales in the United States; large numbers of empty nesters are trading the SUV or the sedan in a sports car or a luxury sedan. Many of them will be attracted to iconic brands like Jag, and notice that Jaguars are cheaper because of exchange rates.
Therefore Tata Motors is a really good long term contrarian play in the automotive sector. Its sales figures are growing as the auto market cools off, and there is lots of potential for future growth. If you want to put a luxury automaker in your portfolio, Tata is an interesting choice.
A slightly different version of this article appeared at Market Mad House.