Report ID 605389004684 Popularity 123 views 10 downloads 
Report Date Apr 2022 Product  
Company / Issuer Tan Chong Motor Holdings Bhd Sector Consumer Products - Automotive
Price (RM)
Normal: RM500.00        
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Rating action     
MARC Ratings has assigned a rating of A+IS to Tan Chong Motor Holdings Berhad’s (TCMH) RM1.5 billion Islamic Medium-Term Notes (Sukuk Murabahah) Programme. The rating outlook is stable. The rating is confined to a RM500.0 million issuance and any further drawdown will require a reassessment of the rating.

The assigned rating incorporates TCMH’s established presence in the domestic automotive industry through its longstanding collaboration with Japan-based Nissan Motor Co Ltd (Nissan), its consistently low-to-moderate leverage position and potential growth from its expansion into the Indochina region. The rating is constrained by thin operating margins partly due to forex movements from its exposure to non-ringgit denominated input costs, and inconsistent cash flow generation due to weak-to-moderate sales.

TCMH assembles and manufactures Nissan vehicles for the mid-market range, and Renault and other marques for the high-end market. Nissan vehicles significantly dominate group sales. As a non-national automaker, its Nissan models face stiff competition in the passenger car segment from Perodua and Proton models which are priced much lower in the same category. TCMH faces higher input costs given 25% of its production costs are denominated in USD and JPY. Nissan’s market share has shown a continued declining trend, from 7.7% in 2015 to 2.3% in 2021, substantially lower than Perodua and Proton which have 35.9% and 21.1% market shares. TCMH hopes to arrest the slide in market share through the launch of new models — sedans and sport utility vehicles (SUV) — as well as by revising its marketing strategy; it is targeting a recovery in Nissan’s domestic market to around 3% over the near term.

TCMH’s performance in 2020 and 2021 was also affected by closures of assembly plants and distribution centres due to multiple iterations of the movement control orders (MCO). The closures contributed to a 35.9% y-o-y decline in unit sales to 14,544 in 2020. Accordingly, revenue declined by 29.1% y-o-y to RM3.0 billion in 2020. Despite the sales tax holiday first introduced in June 2020, sales have not received a major boost to pre-pandemic levels as at date. In 2021, domestic sales remained muted at 12,856 units (2020: 14,544 units). While TCMH remains relatively unaffected by the global semiconductor chip shortage due to adequate levels of existing inventory, production could be affected over the longer term if the shortage persists.

In 2021, the group’s earnings rebounded to RM18.1 million from pre-tax loss of RM161.3 million in 2020, benefitting from cost-cutting initiatives including introducing online sales channels and downsizing its workforce. Cash flow from operations (CFO), however, remained weak at RM182.0 million. Going forward, the group expects to strengthen its performance with its expansion in Vietnam. TCMH has entered into an agreement with China-based automotive company, SAIC Motor Corporation Ltd for the distribution of Morris Garages (MG) models in Vietnam following a discontinuation of rights to distribute Nissan vehicles in Vietnam in September 2020. In 2020, the group undertook inventory clearing which led to a substantial boost in CFO to RM634.4 million.

TCMH’s gross and net debt-to-equity (DE) ratios stood at 0.46x and 0.27x as at end-2021, reflecting its historically low-to-moderate leverage position. Total borrowings declined to RM1.3 billion after a RM500.0 million outstanding under the MTN programme was repaid in November 2021. TCMH’s moderate liquidity position, with cash and cash equivalents of about RM517.3 million as at end-2021, provides flexibility for internal funding. 

Rating outlook     
The stable outlook assumes the group’s performance will be supported by improvement in domestic sales and the overseas market while broadly maintaining its current balance sheet structure.

Rating trajectory

Upside scenario     
Any upgrade will be considered if there is substantial improvement in its operating profit margins to consistently above 4%, and sustained improvement in cash flow generation such that CFO-interest and debt cover metrics are at least above 2.5x and 0.3x.

Downside scenario     
The rating and/or outlook could be revised downwards if the group’s market position continues to decline, if its financial performance is below forecast and its leverage position continues to weaken.

Key strengths
Established player in domestic automotive industry since 1957
Longstanding agreements with global automotive player, Nissan Motor Co Ltd
Low-to-moderate leverage position

Key risks
Thin operating margins arising from intense competition and forex volatility
Cross-border risk from regional expansions