Reliance Industries, India's most-valuable company, on Friday reported 24% jump in the third quarter net profit, the first increase after four quarters of declining returns, on the back of record earnings from oil refining business.
Net profit in October-December at Rs5,502 crore was 23.9% higher over Rs4,440 crore in the same period a year ago, RIL said in a statement. The better-than-estimated quarterly profit came on the back of rise in earnings from turning crude oil into petrol, diesel and other petroleum products.
RIL, which had previously sought to widen beyond its core energy business through forays into consumer-focused sectors such as telecom, retail and financial services, seems to be shifting focus back to where it started its energy business — oil refining.
The shift in focus is after output from its flagship natural gas field in the Krishna Godavari basin continues to wane and government approvals for developing newer and smaller fields are slow to come. RIL, which operates the world's biggest refining complex at Jamnagar in Gujarat, earned $9.6 on turning every barrel of crude oil into fuel in the quarter, compared to $6.8 per barrel gross refining margin in the same period a year ago.
Sales were up over 10% to Rs 96,307 crore.
Debt soared to Rs 72,266 crore at the end of Q3, up from Rs68,259 crore at the beginning of the fiscal. At quarter end, it had a cash pile of Rs80,962 crore, making the company debt free on a net basis. "RIL's performance has improved in this quarter with margin expansion in petrochemicals and record earnings in the refining business," company Chairman and managing director Mukesh D Ambani said.
Before the announcement of the earnings, RIL shares rose to a 15-month high to close at Rs898.95 on BSE on Friday. This is the highest close for RIL shares since October 28, 2011. RIL shares have increased 7.2% this year, adding to last year's 21% surge, the most since 2009.