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ITC net rises 15.3 %

Calcutta, May 23: Tobacco major ITC today unveiled a 15.26 per cent growth in net profit for 2002-03, on a near 16 per cent rise in net sales.

ITC’s net sales during the year at Rs 5,865.78 crore was Rs 806.55 crore higher than last year. Its net profit of Rs 1,371.35 crore translates into an earning per share (EPS) of Rs 55.41.

The impressive figures notwithstanding — which were largely in line with market expectations — the ITC stock fell 2.33 per cent today to close at Rs 677.40 on the Bombay Stock Exchange.

The company will be paying a dividend of Rs 15 per share (150 per cent), which, brokers say, was short of expectations. Last year, the company had paid a dividend of Rs 13.50 per share.

The company’s net income from sales in the last quarter increased 10 per cent to Rs 1,519.86 crore. Net profit during the quarter at Rs 323.42 crore was 13 per cent higher than last year.

ITC said its revenues from cigarettes — Rs 8,764 crore inclusive of duties — grew 9.3 per cent. Despite pressure on consumption of tobacco — particularly in the form of cigarettes — volume grew 4.1 per cent.

ITC’s income from the agri-business at Rs 1,658.14 crore grew 44.5 per cent on the back of 50 per cent growth in earnings from soya, rice, coffee and marine products. The company’s leaf tobacco exports increased 18 per cent.

Revenues from paper and paperboard businesses at Rs 1,162.86 crore grew 12.78 per cent. Income from the company’s hotels at Rs 193.41 crore was a little over 19 per cent higher than last year. ITC has provided Rs 381 crore in respect of disputed taxes during the year, which takes its total provision for unpaid taxes and duties to Rs 970 crore. Collection of these taxes has been stayed by courts.

The company claims to have made substantial progress with its new businesses. ITC’s has established itself as the second largest player in the greetings card business within two years of operation.

ITC also claims to have made significant inroads into the safety matches, incensed sticks and confectionery markets. The company has also scaled up its presence in the branded garments business with the opening of 10 net outlets during the year.

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