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Reliance net gallops 52%

Mumbai, Jan. 21: Reliance Industries has reported a 52 per cent surge in third-quarter profit at Rs 2,091 crore against Rs 1,374 crore in the corresponding period last year.

The bottomline growth beat market expectations and came on the back of robust refining margins and a jump in other income. In petrochemicals, revenues rose 31 per cent to Rs 11,021 crore from Rs 8,404 crore. In refining, sales went up 34 per cent to Rs 13,415 crore from Rs 9,983 crore in the third quarter of the last financial year.

Gross turnover jumped to Rs 24,855 crore from Rs 18,864 crore and net turnover to Rs 17,768 crore from Rs 12,500 crore.

A big reason for the sizzling profit figure was other income, which leapt 48 per cent to Rs 331 crore from Rs 223 crore. A fall in interest to Rs 205 crore from Rs 364 crore also helped. Analysts said the profit surge would have just met market expectations ' but for higher other income.

In the nine months to December, Reliance Industries' net profit increased 41 per cent to Rs 5,280 crore, while its gross turnover was up 27 per cent at Rs 68,535 crore. Around 24 per cent of the increase in sales came from higher prices and 3 per cent from a pick-up in volumes.

The operating margin for the nine-month period was steady at 19 per cent as higher product prices, productivity and efficiency were offset by costlier raw materials.

Other income during the period was at Rs 974 crore, consisting of interest income and premium on preference shares, against Rs 661 crore in April-December 2003.

According to analysts, gross refining margins have gone up during the period to $8 per barrel from $6.7 per barrel last year, but the company will find it hard to hold on to the gains in the quarter ending March. This will happen partly because of lower product prices for January.

Profit margins in petrochemicals and refining could also come under pressure. In refining, it is already down to 7.74 per cent from 8.16 per cent last year; in petrochemicals, it has fallen to 11.78 per cent from 11.96 per cent.

The company's refinery operated at 96 per cent of its capacity, processing 23.69 million tonnes of crude in the nine months to December. Demand for petroleum products increased 3.7 per cent. In polymers, production volumes went up 10 per cent to 7,62,000 tonnes.

Capital expenditure was nearly Rs 2,600 crore, channelled largely into oil and gas, petrochemical expansions.

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