India's largest cigarettes company ITC beat street expectations on Friday as fourth quarter net profit rose 19 percent year-on-year to Rs 1,928 crore, helped especially by strong growth in the other FMCG and agri businesses.
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The company's net sales for the three-month period were also better-than-expected, up 19 percent from a year ago to Rs 8,180 crore.
Analysts on average had expected ITC to report a net profit of Rs 1,910 crore, on net sales of Rs 8,025 crore, according to a CNBC-TV18 poll.
Among key segments, the company's net FMCG sales gained 16 percent to Rs 5,659 crore. While cigarette sales were up 11 percent to Rs 3,623 crore, other FMCG sales rose 26 percent to Rs 2,036 crore in Jan-March.
Cigarette profit (earnings before interest, taxes) was up 20 percent to Rs 2,112 crore.
Its other FMCG business, which includes Sunfeast biscuits and personal care products under Fiama and Vivel brands, turned profitable this quarter. Its EBIT was at Rs 12 crore, compared with a loss of Rs 17 crore in the year ago quarter and Rs 24 crore in Oct-Dec.
For the full year, other FMCG business loss narrowed to Rs 81 crore from Rs 195 crore.
Hotels segment reported 10 percent rise in sales at Rs 315 crore. The overall hotel industry continues to be hit by sluggish growth and that reflected on ITC's hotel segment profit, which halved to Rs 40 crore.
Elsewhere, ITC's agri business sales surged 31 percent to Rs 1,854 crore and paperboards, paper & packaging sales were up 8 percent to Rs 1,058 crore in the fourth quarter.
ITC shares were volatile post the earnings announcement. At 13:35 hrs, the stock was almost flat at around Rs 337 on NSE.