Special Correspondent

MUMBAI: Bajaj Auto Ltd. (BAL) reported a 67 per cent jump in its net profit at Rs. 293 crore for the first quarter of the current financial year ended June 2009 against Rs. 175 crore in the same quarter in the previous year. Its total income was marginally higher at Rs. 2,338 crore (Rs. 2,305 crore)

In spite of lower unit sales of 5.48 lakh units (6.20 lakh units), the company reported significantly improved operating margins of 19.5 per cent (11.6 per cent). The company has attributed the improved margins to richer product mix, higher volumes and the benefit of exchange rate on exports.

During the quarter, motorcycle sales were down at 4.83 lakh units (5.59 lakh units) 2-wheelers at 4.84 lakh units (5.62 lakh units) but 3-wheelers were up at 63,220 units (58,118 units).

Exports were also lower at 178,295 units (198,717 units) and the company attributed these to lower April numbers. May and June saw normalized exports, ``paving the way for positive year on year growth trend into the rest of the year,” BAL said.

The company successfully launched upgrades of the Pulsar – the Pulsar 150 and Pulsar 180 in May 2009. Pulsar 220 was launched in June and has received a good response. The full impact of the upgrades are expected to be reflected in the coming months.

Sequentially, domestic motorcycle sales have improved across all segments and averaged about 1.10 lakh units a month in the quarter as against 83,000 units a month in the fourth quarter of 2008-09.

To launch new bike

BAL will launch a new motorcycle on Friday (July 17). The company claims it to be ‘possibly the world’s most fuel efficient’ and BAL expects this ‘volume’ bike to enable it to record high double digit motorcycle sales growth.

BAL’s domestic three wheeler sales have begun to grow on the back of marketing initiatives focussed on the in-city segment and the sale of passenger carriers in the domestic market grew 13 per cent. The market share in the domestic passenger carrier segment went up from 47 per cent last year to 49 per cent in the quarter.