India: Ultratech has posted a 93% rise in net profit for the fiscal quarter that ended on 31 December 2011 compared to the same period in 2010. India's largest cement producer by sales has attributed this rise to a low base of profit and revenue, improved demand and higher product prices.
Ultratech said that its cement sales rose by 6% to 9.72Mt in the third quarter. The company said that prices improved in the quarter but it didn't give exact figures. Net profit for the three months rose to US$120m from US$64m in 2010. Sales climbed to US$910m from US$740m.
The company said its variable costs increased by 16% in the quarter, largely due to higher prices of both domestic and imported coal. It added that India's monopoly coal producer raised its prices further in January 2012, which could hit its profit margin in the January-March 2012 quarter.
Looking ahead, Ultratech said that while India's cement demand is expected to grow at 8%/yr over the next few years, overcapacity in the cement industry and rise in cost of fuel and other raw materials could put pressure on margins. Ultratech reiterated that it will continue with its US$2.2bn expansion programme to increase its production capacity to 59Mt/yr by 30 June 2013. The company's current capacity is 50Mt/yr.
Most Indian cement companies are expected to post robust financial performance for the October-December 2011 quarter, as demand returned sharply after the seasonal monsoon rains ended in September, spurring construction activity. Cement prices have improved as a result of higher demand as well as rising costs.