Astra International Fourth-Quarter Net Gains 9.3% on Auto Sales

PT Astra International, Indonesia’s biggest automotive retailer, posted a 9.3 percent increase in fourth-quarter profit as sales of cars and motorcycles countered a decline in the company’s commodity businesses.

Net income in the three months through December rose to 4.7 trillion rupiah ($486 million) from 4.3 trillion rupiah a year earlier, while sales rose 4.4 percent to 44.9 trillion rupiah, according to Bloomberg calculations. Astra announced today full-year net income of 19.4 trillion rupiah, exceeding the 19.26 trillion rupiah median estimate of 23 analysts in a Bloomberg News survey. Astra’s auto business contributed 9.5 trillion rupiah to full-year net income, heavy equipment and mining division contributed 3.5 trillion rupiah while agriculture businesses 1.9 trillion rupiah, the company said in a statement.

“My recommendation is neutral” on Astra, Adrian Joezer, an analyst at Mandiri Sekuritas in Jakarta, said before the earnings were announced. “I’m positive on its automotive sales but less so on its other businesses, agriculture and heavy equipment.”

Indonesia’s domestic vehicle sales rose 23 percent to 1.1 million units last year, according to data released by Astra. Astra, which sells Toyota Motor Corp. cars and Honda Motor Co. motorcycles, accounted for more than 50 percent of market share. The Jakarta-based company is betting on rising domestic spending to counter slowing growth at its commodity based units PT United Tractors and PT Astra Agro Lestari.

Bank Indonesia has kept its benchmark interest rate at a record low of 5.75 percent for 12 straight months, encouraging spending at a time Indonesia’s exports including palm oil and coal fell 9.8 percent last year. The Thomson Reuters/Jefferies CRB Index of raw materials has fallen 9.4 percent over the past year as Europe’s debt crisis and slowing growth in China cut demand. Indonesia’s economy, Southeast Asia’s biggest, expanded 6.11 percent last quarter, the slowest pace in more than two years.

“Astra’s good performance was mainly supported by strong car sales,” Astra President Director Prijono Sugiarto said in the statement today. “Our prospect remains good even though current conditions are still being affected by instability in the price of coal and palm oil.”

United Tractors’ 2012 net income fell to 5.78 trillion rupiah from 5.9 trillion rupiah a year earlier. The company’s sales of Komatsu Ltd. heavy equipment fell to 409 units in January from 617 units a year earlier, it reported Feb. 22

Palm oil producer Astra Agro’s 2012 net income was little changed at 2.41 trillion rupiah. Palm oil probably will drop this year after Asian producers boosted acreage and global oilseed supplies rose, Dorab Mistry, a Godrej International Ltd. director who’s traded the commodity for more than 30 years, said last week.

Shares of Astra, Indonesia’s largest company by market value, have risen 4.6 percent this year, underperforming the benchmark Jakarta Composite index gain of 11 percent. The stock rose 0.6 percent to 7,950 rupiah at the close in Jakarta today.

Astra’s fourth-quarter figures were derived by subtracting nine-month earnings from Astra’s full-year earnings announced today. Yulian Warman, head of corporate communication at Astra, couldn’t immediately confirm the figures when contacted on his mobile phone.

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