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Tata Motors profit up 10 per cent on strong Jaguar Land Rover sales, masking weakness in India

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In this June 1, 2010 photo, rows of Tata's ultra-cheap Nano cars sit at a Tata Motors manufacturing plant in Sanand, Gujarat state, India. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Ajit Solanki

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MUMBAI, India - India's Tata Motors reported a 10 per cent rise in quarterly net profit Wednesday, as the strong global performance of Jaguar Land Rover masked lacklustre results from Tata's core brand.

Net profit was 21.0 billion rupees ($387 million) in the July to September quarter. Sales rose 19 per cent from a year earlier to 441.1 billion rupees ($8.1 billion), thanks to strong demand for Jaguar Land Rover vehicles, especially in China, which now accounts for over 20 per cent of global sales.

The numbers lagged estimates. Analysts polled by FactSet had forecast net income of 24.1 billion rupees for the quarter.

Jaguar Land Rover paid a maiden dividend to Tata Motors of 150 million pounds ($240 million). This extraordinary income swung Tata Motors from a loss to a standalone net profit of 8.7 billion rupees ($160 million), up from 1.0 billion rupees a year ago.

Demand for vehicles in India has been hit by poor macroeconomic conditions, which hurt Tata's mainstay commercial vehicle sales especially hard, as well as by rising fuel and tax rates and high interest rates. Tata has also been spending on developing new models and marketing even as price pressures intensify in India's cost-conscious market.

Sales of Tata vehicles rose 5.8 per cent from a year earlier to 223,655 vehicles, while wholesale sales of Jaguar Land Rover vehicles jumped 14 per cent to 77,442 vehicles.

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