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KUALA LUMPUR: RHB Research is cautious about the outlook for the auto industry and is Underweight on the sector with the exception of Berjaya Auto of which it has a Buy Call.
It said on Wednesday despite a tough environment for consumer discretionary spending, November’s total industry volume (TIV) held up as consumers brought forward their purchase decisions ahead of anticipated price increases in the new year.
“We reiterate our cautious view on the auto industry’s 2016 outlook with continued pressure on both volumes and margins. Berjaya Auto is our sole BUY call. Underweight on the auto sector,” it said.
RHB Research said TIV in November increased marginally (+0.6% on-month, +1.4% on-year), based on the Malaysian Automotive Association’s (MAA) data.
The average TIV for October and November was 5.8% higher vis-à-vis the average TIV from April-September.
“We excluded the TIV for the months prior to April to remove the effect of spikes in sales due to the implementation of the goods and services tax (GST). Cumulative 11M15 vehicle registrations reached 597,234 units (-0.8% on-year).
“Despite the soft consumer sentiment, auto sales have held up so far, as consumers are bringing forward their purchase decision in anticipation of higher vehicle prices in 2016,” it said.
RHB Research said aggressive sales promotions and marketing campaigns have continued with distributors trying to achieve their 2015 sales targets.
Proton and Perodua sales slumped in November, -12.6% and -8.6% on-year respectively. However, cumulative sales for Perodua rose 8.6% on-year while Proton’s sales contracted 12.2% on-year.
Perodua’s performance reflects the success of the Axia, while the languishing Proton sales are indicative of its dated model line-ups and weak brand presence.
Honda is maintaining its lead ahead of Toyota and looks like it would dethrone the latter as the No. 1 non-national marque in 2015. Mazda sales expanded by 22.9% on-year on the back of new models introduced recently.
“The MAA expects sales volume for December to match November’s. Given that consumers have brought forward their purchases for next year – amidst a weak environment for big ticket consumer discretionary spending – we are expecting TIV to contract to 640,000 units in 2016.
“In particular, 1Q16 sales could be exceptionally soft from consumer aversion to higher car prices. We see the national marques being affected, given the more severe impact of high living costs on their typical target consumer segments.
“The auto industry is likely to remain highly competitive in 2016, with margins staying under pressure from lower volumes and higher costs,” said RHB Research.