ITC net rises 27 per cent to Rs1140 crore for December quarter

Asia's second-largest tobacco company by market value, ITC Ltd, reported a record quarterly profit on rising cigarette sales and its paper and agriculture businesses almost doubling earnings.

Net income was up 27 per cent to Rs1,140 crore in the three months ended 31December, as against Rs903 crore a year earlier, according to the Kolkata-based company's e-mailed statement today.

The fastest paced earnings growth in three years, helped the company's shares gain as much as 3.8 per cent today, the biggest jump in two months.

According to analysts, cigarette volume growth had been very impressive because of the taxes had not been increased in the budget. They say the performance in hotels has improved and cigarette volume growth according to expectations would continue to rise this quarter.

The cigarette maker's shares rose 2.8 per cent to Rs251. ITC, which is owned 32 per cent by British American Tobacco Plc, climbed 46 per cent last year, trailing the 81 per cent gain in the benchmark Sensex.

Japan Tobacco Inc with a market worth $36 billion is Asia's most- valuable cigarette maker.