Moody's Investors Service on Friday said the uncertain pace of recovery in global auto demand will continue to weigh on Tata Motors Ltd (TML) and its wholly owned subsidiary Jaguar Land Rover Automotive Plc over the next 12-18 months.
However, the ratings agency, while keeping a negative outlook on the two firms, said support from Tata Sons mitigates operational challenges at TML and kept rating at the same level as JLR — 'B1 negative'.
It further said electrification and political developments pose further downside risk and will prolong recovery.
"We do not expect global auto shipments to recover to pre-pandemic levels until the middle of the decade, while further lockdowns, the transition to electric vehicles, emission compliance requirements and – for JLR – Brexit all pose further downside risk," Moody's Vice-President and Senior Credit Officer Tobias Wagner said in a statement.
Moody's said, "TML's underlying credit profile has deteriorated to a level weaker than JLR's but the ratings remain the same, thanks to a one-notch uplift to reflect likely support from parent Tata Sons Ltd in times of need."
JLR's rating does not incorporate an uplift for likely support from parent TML due to the latter's weaker credit quality. Still, the subsidiary remains strategically important to both TML and Tata Sons, a credit positive for the rating, it added.
Stating that it expects that TML and JLR's financial metrics will remain in breach of rating downgrade triggers over the next 12-18 months, Moody's said it implies that "a sustained improvement in operations is required to maintain their current ratings".
For TML, a return in outlook to stable would require an improvement at JLR as the key contributor to consolidated credit metrics, along with a recovery in the profitability of TML's Indian operations, it added.
Moody's Vice-President and Senior Credit Officer Kaustubh Chaubal said TML's credit profile previously benefited from the different demand dynamics in its JLR and non-JLR segments but the pandemic has hurt demand across all major markets. The profitability and liquidity of its Indian operations also have weakened, he added.
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