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L&T posts 38% jump in Q4 net, declares bonus share issue
May, 31st 2008

Larsen and Toubro (L&T), the largest engineering company in the country, said its fourth-quarter profit rose 38 per cent helped by a one-time gain and new orders from the oil sector. The company offered one free share for each held by stakeholders.

Profit rose to Rs 966.76 crore in the quarter ended March 2008 from Rs 700.77 crore a year earlier. Sales rose 36 per cent to Rs 8,466.87 crore, the company said in a statement. Its profit included a one-time gain of Rs 87.23 crore from stake sale of HPL Cogeneration to Haldia Petrochemicals (HPL).

Larsen is bagging more orders as India plans to spend more than $500 billion to build roads, ports and power plants in an attempt to spur the pace of economic growth to 10 per cent. The company, which earns about 16 per cent of its revneue from overseas, is securing more orders from West Asia which is expanding construction and other related infrastructure helped by demand for oil and related petrochemical products. Total orders rose to Rs 53,000 crore in the quarter from Rs 45,000 crore.

"The company expects a 30-35 per cent growth in revenues in the current financial year as the current order book execution spans over 18 months,'' Chairman AM Naik told reporters in Mumbai today. L&T share rose 6.64 per cent to Rs 2,889.10 at the close of trading on the Bombay Stock Exchange helped by the bonus shares plan. The stock recorded its highest gain in two months.

The company expects to grow faster in West Asia to offset any demand slowdown in India. The company seeks to boost the share of its international revenue to 25 per cent in the next two years.

It expects to maintain operating margin around 14 per cent in the year ending March 2009 after accounting for increase in input cost including steel, copper, cement and zinc. Its fourth-quarter operating margin was at 15.9 per cent compared with 15.6 per cent in the corresponding period a year earlier. Indian companies including Bharat Heavy Electricals' profit have been hurt by rising cost of raw materials.

Larsen & Toubro said it could raise prices for as many as 60 per cent of its orders due to increase in raw material costs.

Still, the company expects rising input costs and global credit crunch to impact demand for new infrastructure, equipment and other facilities. "The recent slowdown in the industrial sector, coupled with rising input costs, particularly oil, and the credit squeeze may have an impact on the capital goods sector's ability to sustain growth momentum in the medium term. However, in view of the pace of infrastructure development in the country and neighbouring regions, the immediate prospects for growth appear promising and the company is reasonably confident of producing healthy results in near term," the company said in a statement.

The company has set up three units to win orders in the power, shipbuilding and railway sectors, Naik said.

L&T's Dubai subsidiary, Larsen & Toubro International FZE, had recently announced that it incurred losses from hedging commodity prices. It had losses of about Rs 200 crore in the last financial year because prices of copper, zinc and other commodities it bet on fell. The loss on hedging commodities has figured in the consolidated account of the group.

In addition, L&T and its subsidiaries have added Rs 261 crore in the fourth-quarter expenditure as exposure to forex derivatives on a mark-to-market basis as per the new guidelines of the Institute of Chartered Accounts of India (ICAI). Despite all these deductions, the company has registered a record profit in the quarter, said Y M Deosthalee, chief financial officer, L&T. The company increased its spending by 35 per cent to Rs 7,417 crore in the quarter.

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