Maruti Suzuki reported a fall in net profit for the fourth quarter ended March 31, hurt by industry-wide weak demand. The carmaker's net profit fell by 4.6% to 1,795.6 crore. The Street had estimated the automaker to post net profit of 1,747 crore for the quarter. This quarter was marked by adverse foreign exchange rates and commodity prices, higher depreciation and higher sales promotion expenses, partially offset by cost reduction efforts, the company said.

Maruti Suzuki India Ltd forecast a weak rate of growth for the current fiscal year amid an industry-wide weakening of demand. The country's biggest automaker, majority owned by Japan's Suzuki Motor Corp, said it expected production and sales to grow between 4% and 8% for the financial year started in April. Last year, the company targeted a 10 percent rate of growth for sales.

Maruti Suzuki chairman RC Bhargava also announced that the company will phase out all diesel cars with effect from April 1, 2020.

During the quarter, Maruti registered net sales of Rs. 20,737.5 crore, up by 0.7% over the same period previous year.

The board of directors recommended a dividend of Rs. 80 per share of face value 5- for 2018-19, the same as that of last year.

Total sales in the quarter stood at 458,479 vehicles, a decline of 0.7%. Maruti sold a total of 428,863 units in the domestic market, a growth of 0.4%. This comprised 421,383 units in the passenger vehicle segment, a decline of 0.4% and 7,480 units of LCV, a growth of 83.6% over previous year. Exports were at 29,616 units.

Maruti said it has earmarked a capex of 4,500 crore for the current fiscal. The investment will go into various initiatives, including new product development, R&D and land acquisition for sales network, MSI CFO Ajay Seth told reporters here. MSI had earmarked a capex of 4,000 crore for 2018-19.

Maruti Suzuki's shares were down about 1.5% to 6,912 in afternoon trade after falling 2% to 6,880 at day's low. Maruti Suzuki's shares are down about 30% from its July highs of 9,922 as the auto sector reels under slowing sales.

Earlier in the day, the automaker announced that its Baleno diesel range and RS petrol variants will be costlier by up to 15,000 (ex-showroom). The Baleno RS, which comes with a 1 litre booster jet petrol engine, will now be available at 8.88 lakh, the automaker said in a stock exchange filing.

The Baleno RS model was earlier priced at 8.76 lakh. The Baleno diesel range is now priced between 6.73 lakh and 8.73 lakh (ex-showroom). It was earlier tagged between 6.61 lakh and 8.60 lakh.

Maruti Suzuki Ltd has over past few days launched its popular Baleno and Alto hatchbacks with engines compliant with the Bharat State 6 emission norms, a year before the new norms will be introduced. (With Agency Inputs)

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