The global economy faces many uncertainties and headwinds. Escalating trading tensions, increasing nationalistic approaches (as opposed to globalization) and Brexit related issues have necessitated reshaping of global business models. Additionally, rapid growth of digital economy, increasing usage of automation, artificial intelligence and internet of things and services, emergence of disruptive technologies and business models and renewed focus on clean and green environment force new challenges and offers unprecedented growth opportunities.
Clearly, Indian economy has its own characteristics but it is also impacted by the global developments outlined above. The recent general elections have ensured political stability, continuity of economic reforms and predictable policy environment. While our broader economic indicators are looking stable with GDP estimated to grow at 7% for FY 2019-20, moderate inflation, sufficient foreign currency reserves, stable exchange rate and benign crude oil prices, there are economic headwinds as well. Challenges such as slowing economy leading to lower consumption, agrarian and rural distress, growing under and unemployment, stagnant exports and acute credit shortage call for innovative policy reforms in agricultural and labour sectors and greater emphasis on private investment in infrastructure and manufacturing. This will accelerate job creation and promote higher exports.
The Indian automotive industry which contributes 7 percent of the country''s GDP and employs 37 million people is currently witnessing a sharp cyclical slowdown. As though this challenge is not difficult enough, the transition from BS IV to BS VI emission norms across the country with effect from April 2020, will entail major technological changes and compel manufacturers and dealers to carefully plan their inventory levels pre and post the emission norms change.
Your Company will adopt a two pronged approach, making the current internal combustion engines (ICEs) greener and more fuel efficient whilst simultaneously working towards electrification. I am pleased to inform you that your company stands at the forefront of such a transformation by closely working with all its customers for a smooth implementation of BS VI emission norms and electrification initiatives.
The financial results for FY 2018-19 can be seen in the enclosed Annual Report. You will note that despite the slowdown in the automotive sector in the second half of the financial year, sales grew by 4.9% over the previous financial year and Profit after Tax by 16%. In addition to higher dividend payout, your Company has, in February this year, also bought back 10,27,100 equity shares of the face value of INR 10 each at a price of INR 21,000 per share thereby returning INR 21,569 million to the shareholders.
Our innovations and initiatives in the mobility and beyond mobility sectors will continue and accelerate. Our deep knowledge of local markets and customer insights, availability and access to cutting edge and relevant technology, engineering and executional excellence backed by high quality human resources will enable your company to continue to play its meaningful role in nation building and skill development.
Dear shareholders, as we end another financial year, we reflect on all that your Company has achieved so far. And as we continue to work with bigger innovations and a stronger commitment towards a better India, I thank you for your continued support and trust in us.
V. K. Viswanathan
Chairman, Board of Directors