India's Bajaj Finance falls over 8% as loan growth moderates in Q3

BENGALURU (Reuters) -Shares of Bajaj Finance fell as much as 8.3% on Thursday, a day after the Indian shadow lender reported moderate growth in new loans and assets under management (AUM) during the third quarter.

New loans booked in the quarter ended Dec. 31 were up 5.4% year-on-year, against a 7.9% increase in the second quarter, while AUM grew 27% as of Dec. 31, compared with a 31% jump in the previous quarter.

"This performance was slightly lower than street expectations as third is usually a strong quarter led by festive demand," Antique Stock Broking said in a note.

New customer acquisition, though highest for the quarter at 3.1 million, was slower than expected, Antique analysts said, adding that new loans booked indicated that contribution of existing customers remains significant.

"Company continues to grow strong through its existing customers, but we believe this cannot continue for long and growth can see slight moderation in the medium term."

Bajaj Finance and its holding company Bajaj Finserv with a 5% decline, were the top drags on the bluechip Nifty 50 index on Thursday.

Softer growth can weigh on the stock in the near-term, Jefferies analysts said.

Meanwhile, other private and state-run Indian lenders reported robust provisional numbers for the third quarter, indicating credit growth remains strong.

Shares of Bajaj Finance recorded their first annual decline last year in 11, falling 5.8%, against a 9.5% increase in Nifty financial index.

(Reporting by Nallur Sethuraman in Bengaluru; Editing by Janane Venkatraman and Dhanya Ann Thoppil)