MAA March 2016

The automotive market isn’t the the best of times now; the overhang from last year’s year end sales and consumers staying away from making big ticket purchases means that sales is soft. But the worst may be over, and the sector is expected to improve in the second half of the year, The Sun reports.

The quoted financial analysts point to the strengthening of ringgit, entry of new models from national and non-national makes, year-end promotions and easing of price hike overhang as factors. BIMB Securities Research analyst Wan Mustaqim said in a note that the strengthening of ringgit would reduce the cost of both CKD and CBU vehicles.

Vehicle sales in March 2016 were 29% higher month-on-month (m-o-m), and almost everybody saw a big jump from a slow February – namely Honda (32%), Toyota (48%), Nissan (57%), Mazda (81%) and Perodua (26%). “Furthermore, March saw the first positive m-o-m growth this year and the largest m-o-m growth in one year,” AmInvestment Bank pointed out.

Passenger and commercial vehicles registered growth of 26.7% and 48.1% m-o-m respectively. However, total industry volume (TIV) was down by 27.6% year-on-year and 22% year-to-date (YTD) till end-March, due to customers purchasing ahead of the implementation of the GST last year, and also price hikes by car brands this year.

toyota-showroom

“The YTD volume of 131,267 units was within ours and Malaysian Automotive Association (MAA) expectations, making up 20.3% of full year forecast of 650,000 units,” Wan Mustaqim said.

AmInvestment expects Toyota to see marginal improvements going ahead, with a boost in the second quarter of the year driven by the new Innova MPV and Hilux pick-up truck models. The latter is second after the Vios on volume for the brand, contributing 30% to UMW Toyota’s annual TIV, the research house says.

Toyota had raised prices in January, and sales fell sharply in the first two months of the year. “Although sales rebounded in March by 48% m-o-m to 4,319 units, they are still well below the monthly average of 7,818 seen in 2015. UMW Holdings expects annual sales for Toyota to drop 9.3% to 85,000 units this year (translating to a monthly average of 7,080 units, 12% of target after Q1),” AmInvestment added.

Despite predicting a second half improvement, BIMB Securities remains neutral on the auto sector, with buy calls on Berjaya Auto (Mazda) and MBM Resources (Perodua) stocks.