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ITC meets Street estimates; Q4 profit up by 9.89% at Rs. 29.33 billion

Avishek Rakshit/Kolkata 17 May 18 | 12:29 AM

In line with Street estimates, diversified conglomerate ITC Ltd posted a 9.89 per cent rise in its net profit at Rs. 29.33 billion for the quarter ended March 31, 2018, with a total revenue, inclusive of other income, at Rs. 113.30 billion. The net profit during the corresponding quarter of the 2016-17 fiscal year stood at Rs. 26.69 billion, backed by a revenue of Rs. 154.11 billion.

In a statement, the company said that owing to the GST rollout, the revenue is not comparable.

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On a comparable basis, Gross Sales Value (GSV), inclusive of rebates and discounts, stood at Rs. 179.33 billion, mainly driven by the non-cigarette FMCG and hotels business while the agri business impacted the turnover. The GSV, excluding the agri business vertical, grew by 5.7 per cent.

Shortage of leaf tobacco in Andhra Pradesh due to lower crop output on account of drought in 2016 and adverse crop quality, the relative strength of the Indian Rupee vis-à-vis currencies of competing origins and limited trading opportunities in other agri-commodities had weighed on the performance of the Agri Business vertical. Besides, the growth in this vertical was also impacted on account of a high base in imported wheat trading, limited trading opportunities in agri commodities such as wheat, soya, coffee and lower leaf exports during the quarter.

Facing a stringent regulatory environment, revenue from the cigarettes business fell by 44.82 per cent at Rs. 49.36 billion as against the income of Rs. 89.55 billion during the fourth quarter (Q4) of the 2016-17 fiscal year, however, ITC was able to increase the gross profitability from this segment by 7.58 per cent at Rs. 35.06 billion. Its brand portfolio, including the introduction of the Wave brand, consumer insights and introduction of key innovative cigarette variants like Classic Double Burst, Gold Flake Mint Switch and others helped the company tide through pressures on the legal cigarette trade.

According to Abneesh Roy, research analyst with Edelweiss, the topline reported by ITC is inclusive of taxes and thus under the GST regime, when accounting standards have changed, the topline is also not comparable.

Analysts estimate that ITC faced a five per cent volume decline in its cigarette sales during the quarter under review while for the 2016-17 fiscal year, the decline in sales volume is 2-3 per cent.

Its non-cigarette FMCG business, which is facing gestation costs owing to new product and category launches and the ongoing restructuring of the retail trade terms in the Lifestyle Retailing Business, posted a 5.75 per cent surge in its topline at Rs. 30.52 in the 2017-18 Q4 period as against the revenue of Rs. 28.86 billion even as the profitability surged by 62.50 per cent at Rs. 910 million. In the branded packaged foods business, Bingo, Aashirvaad atta and Dark Fantasy Choco Fills were the primary growth drivers while in the personal care business, the growth was led by Engage deodorants, Vivel and Fiama soaps & shower gels and Savlon handwash. The Classmate notebook range consolidated further its market leadership. However, the performance of the Lifestyle Retailing Business remained sluggish mainly on account of an early and prolonged ’end-of-season sale’ in the wake of disruption to the trade during the transition to GST and ongoing structural interventions to enhance operating efficiencies.

As per analysts, the alleged issue on Aashirvaad atta had dampened sales revenue in the non-FMCG business and excluding the contribution from the Aashirvaad brand, the growth is expected at 12 per cent.

The operating environment in the hospitality sector showed signs of improvement with foreign tourist arrivals crossing the 10 million mark in 2017 and improvement in average room rates backed by a good growth in the food and beverage sales. In turn, it led to the income from this vertical surge by 5.42 per cent at Rs. 4.08 billion while gross profitability improved by 11.94 per cent at Rs. 750 million. Construction of ITC Kohenur in Hyderabad is expected to be commissioned in the first quarter of 2018-19. In addition, its wholly-owned subsidiary in Sri Lanka made steady progress towards setting up a luxury hotel christened ‘ITC One’ and a super-premium residential apartment complex, ‘Sapphire  Residences – Colombo 1’, situated at a strategic location in Colombo. Besides, ITC is also expecting handover of the Park Hyatt Goa Resort and Spa soon, which the company won in auctions last year.

However, in the agri business, ITC registered a 5.74 per cent dip in its revenue at Rs. 18.08 billion with a fall of 8.15 per cent in segment profitability at Rs. 1.24 billion. This business segment continues to provide strategic sourcing support to the company's cigarette business and sources identity-preserved specific grades of superior quality wheat, fruit pulp, spices and frozen shrimps for the branded packaged foods businesses.

In the paperboards, paper and packaging vertical, which was impacted by the slowdown in the FMCG & legal cigarette industry, cheap imports and unabsorbed capacity in domestic paperboard industry, ITC posted a flattish revenue of Rs. 13 billion while profitability declined marginally at Rs. 2.42 billion.

For the coming months, the cigarette to soap maker is optimist that progressive stability of the transformative GST regime, signs of an incipient economic recovery and expectations of normal monsoon will help the company grow further.

The ITC scrip on the BSE, rose by 1.47 per cent at Rs. 285.95 apiece at the end of the day’s trade.

 Q4 FY 2017-18Q4 FY 2016-17   Total Revenue *113.30154.11Total Expenses69.96113.64Net Profit29.3326.69Paid up Equity Share Capital12.2012.14

Source – ITC Ltd

All figures in Rs. Billion

* Not comparable on account of GST rollout

Sanjiv Puri named MD

ITC on Wednesday re-designated its current CEO and Executive Director, Sanjiv Puri, as the company’s managing director. Sources said Puri’s functions and role in ITC would remain the same and the change in designation is aligned to global practices and to provide clarity to shareholders. In some firms, the CEO is not necessarily a part of the board while the MD is always so. Puri’s re-designation, hence, will clear any ambiguity in the public eye.

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