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What drove Bajaj Auto’s exports

    Parvatha Vardhini C
    BL Research Bureau
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Bajaj Auto is one auto company that consistently turns in a high profit on every rupee of sales it makes, no matter whether input costs rise or competition escalates. Its operating profit margins have stayed put at 19-20 per cent over the past many quarters. One reason for this lies in its thriving export business which brings in over a third of its revenues.

The company’s 2011-12 Annual Report throws new light on the brands and the countries which drive its export revenues.

BAL is the largest exporter of motor-cycles and three-wheelers from the country. Its two-wheeler export volumes grew by 30 per cent to about 12.68 lakh units in 2011-12, while three-wheeler volumes grew by 35 per cent to 3.12 lakh units.

It exports to 35 countries and enjoys a leadership position in 12 of them. Africa is its largest market, accounting for 41 per cent of the total volumes. This is followed by Asia and West Asia (40 per cent) and Latin America (18 per cent).

What are the vehicles sold in the foreign markets? Interestingly, it’s neither a ‘Discover’ nor a ‘Pulsar’ that rules the African markets. It is instead the ‘Boxer’. A new 150 cc version of the Boxer was introduced in Africa and the Philippines during the year. In Latin America, however, the Pulsar 135 rules the roost.

It’s a different ball game altogether closer home, in Sri Lanka. Here, the humble three-wheeler is the top seller. The strong demand is due to the fact that customers use three-wheelers as personal vehicles, says the annual report. This is what has perhaps led to the introduction of the four-wheeled auto or the RE 60 at the Auto Expo earlier this year.

Not all of Bajaj’s export ventures are doing equally well though. In Indonesia alone, BAL operates through a subsidiary called ‘PT Bajaj Indonesia’. Incorporated in 2007, this company assembles and markets Pulsars in Indonesia. As of March 2012, the subsidiary made a loss of Rs 12 crore. Total investment in this company is at about Rs 138 crore.

The focus on emerging economies where demand remained robust has been BAL’s strong point in 2011-12. The depreciating rupee also boosted export realisations for the company.

However, the company may not be as lucky in 2012-13, says the report. A substantial rise in import duty in Sri Lanka, trade restrictions in Argentina and dollar trade embargo in Iran challenge the growth momentum.

vardhini.c@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on August 19, 2012)
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