Photographer: Agung Parameswara/Getty Images

Yamaha Sees Asean Push Lifting Margins Amid Indonesia Slump

  • CEO sees Asean motorcycle profit margin reaching 10%
  • Flusher consumers seen making India another ‘pillar’ market

Yamaha Motor Co., which sold a third of its motorcycles in Indonesia last year, plans to make up for a slump in the market by boosting sales to the rest of Southeast Asia with new models and almost double profit margin in the region.

The operating profit ratio for the two-wheeler business in the Asean region may reach 10 percent as soon as this year, compared with 5.7 percent in 2015, Chief Executive Officer Hiroyuki Yanagi said in an interview. That’s at least a year ahead of projections by Koichi Sugimoto, an analyst at Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley.

Indonesia’s economy is feeling the effects of a slowdown in China, its top export market, and slumping commodity prices, weighing on a motorcycle market Yamaha counts on for sales. The manufacturer has introduced models built on common platforms such as the M-SLAZ sports model and the NMAX scooter to reduce costs and boost profitability in Southeast Asia markets Vietnam, Thailand and the Philippines.

Hiroyuki Yanagi. rg
Hiroyuki Yanagi. rg
Photographer: Akio Kon/Bloombe

“As they upgrade the model lineup, the margins will greatly improve,” Sugimoto said by phone. “The new models have much better margins.”

Yamaha rose 2.7 percent to 1,935 yen, the highest level since June 1, at the close in Tokyo. The shares have jumped 26 percent since July 12, when Nikkei Inc. said the company would replace Sharp Corp. on the Nikkei 225 Stock Average from Aug. 1. The benchmark index has gained 5.1 percent in the same period.

Yamaha last week cut its full-year net income forecast by 25 percent to 60 billion yen ($591 million), as the yen strengthens and sales in Indonesia are estimated to plunge about 40 percent from 2014 levels. Indonesia’s market may recover next year, Yanagi said on Tuesday.

The operating profit margin for the company’s two-wheeler business in the Asean region widened to 7.8 percent in the first half, according to Yanagi.

In India, the largest motorcycle market in the world, Yamaha forecasts sales will rise 35 percent this year to 806,000 units, as the company expands its dealer network in rural areas. India will become another “pillar” of Yamaha’s motorcycle business, after Indonesia and other markets in Southeast Asia, Yanagi said.

“The growth will mainly come from more expensive segments in Asian markets including India,” said Yanagi, who sees buyers upgrading from cheaper scooters to higher-spec models. “I’m not concerned that our overall profit margin will be watered down in the future because of sales volume growth in these markets.”

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