Indian automaker Maruti Q1 net rises 35 pct


MUMBAI, July 26 (Reuters) - India's largest car maker, Maruti Udyog Ltd. , reported a higher-than-expected 35 percent rise in quarterly net profit on Thursday as cost cutting and solid sales of premium cars offset volatile raw material costs and rising interest rates.

Maruti, 54.2 percent owned by Japan's Suzuki Motor Corp. , said net profit rose to 4.99 billion rupees ($124 million) in the fiscal first quarter to end-June, from 3.70 billion rupees in the same period a year earlier.

That beat a forecast of 3.69 billion rupees in a Reuters poll of 10 analysts.

Maruti has nearly half the Indian market with models including the best-selling Alto and Swift hatchback, but is facing competition from local rival Tata Motors Ltd. , as well as international heavyweights Hyundai Motor , Honda Motor , Ford Motor and General Motors .

Maruti's vehicle sales rose 17 percent to 169,669 units in the April-June quarter but the company has said it would be difficult to match its record domestic sales of 2006/07 as higher interest rates have dampened consumer demand.

Shares of Maruti, which has a market value of $5.87 billion, fell 9.4 percent in the quarter, trailing a 2.7 percent decline on the sector index and a 12 percent gain for the benchmark index . ($1=40.3 rupees)



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