ITC fourth quarter net up marginally at Rs2,361 cr

Homegrown consumer goods major ITC Ltd has reported a net profit of Rs2,361 crore for the quarter ended 31 March 2015, up marginally from Rs2,278 crore in the corresponding quarter of the previous financial year.

Analysts say ITC's quarterly profit would have been higher but for higher taxes on tobacco.

Kolkata-headquartered ITC is the largest cigarette maker in the country, selling four out of every five cigarettes sold in India.

The company's total income during the quarter stood at Rs9,293 crore, against Rs9,238.5 crore earned in the year-ago period.

Analysts had projected a net profit of Rs2,507 crore for ITC on a total income of Rs9,730 crore for the January-March 2015 quarter.

The company, however, said it was a ''steady performance'' in the backdrop of continuing sluggishness in the macro-economic environment, and the steep hike in taxes/duties on cigarettes.

''The company also had to contend with startup costs relating to the launch of new products and categories in the non-cigarette FMCG segment, input cost pressures in the paperboards, paper and packaging businesses and a weak pricing environment in the hotels business,'' the company said.

''In the last fiscal, the non-cigarette FMCG segment registered a healthy revenue growth of 11.3 per cent amidst subdued demand conditions. The agri-business profits were up 8.3 per cent driven by enriched mix and higher realisation. While, the hospitality sector continued to be impacted by a weak pricing scenario in the backdrop of excessive room inventory in key domestic markets and a sluggish macro-economic environment, the paperboards, paper and packaging segment was also impacted by the continuing slowdown in the FMCG industry, reduction of import duty under various regional free trade agreements and input cost pressures,'' an official communique from the company said.

The net revenue of the company at Rs36,083.21 crore grew 9.7 per cent primarily driven by an 11.3 per cent growth in the non-cigarette FMCG segment, 8.1 per cent growth in the agribusiness segment and 8.7 per cent growth in the cigarettes segment.

The post-tax profit (comparable) of the company has gone up by 12.5 per cent in the last fiscal.

ITC board has declared a dividend of Rs6.25 per share for FY15, up from previous year's dividend of Rs6 per share.