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First-quarter bottomline rises 15% to Rs 397 crore

Calcutta, July 25: ITC today reported a net profit of Rs 397.22 crore in the quarter ended June, up 15.49 per cent from Rs 343.92 crore same time last year.

Net income from sales during the quarter at Rs 1,428.85 crore was 1.48 per cent higher than Rs 1408.02 crore in the first quarter of last year. Analysts said the growth in net profit was largely due to increase in other income and stock in trade.

The market was not impressed with the company’s results. The share price of ITC fell Rs 11.55 and closed at Rs 734.70 on the Bombay Stock Exchange today. The stock fell 1.55 per cent from its previous close while the Sensex gained 1.6 per cent.

Gross income from cigarettes — its principal business — grew 3.9 per cent year-on-year to Rs 2,291.05 crore (Rs 2204.85 crore). Profit (before tax) from the segment at Rs 535.63 crore was 7.7 per cent higher than Rs 497.35 crore in the corresponding previous period.

There was a significant fall in the company’s income from agri-business. Income from the segment at Rs 331.32 crore was 23.43 per cent lower than Rs 432.72 crore in the first quarter of 2002-03. Profit from the business was 33.8 per cent lower at Rs 23.85 crore (Rs 36.06 crore).

ITC attributed the decline in income and profit from agri-business to the transport strike in April 2003, fall in export of rice other than basmati and the depreciation of the dollar against the rupee.

Income from the paperboards business grew 8 per cent over last year to Rs 295.64 crore (Rs 273.50 crore). Profit from the segment at Rs 52.74 crore was 13.34 per cent higher than Rs 46.53 crore last year.

ITC chairman Y. C. Deveshwar said the company was looking to establish itself as a leader in the Afro-Asian region. “We are looking to expand rapidly both through acquisitions and greenfield ventures,” he added.

ITC will invest Rs 350 crore in expanding the capacity of its existing plants by 70,000 tonnes. The capacity would be added by the end of 2004, Deveshwar said.

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