Reliance Industries, India's most-valuable company, today reported 24 per cent 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 Rs 5,502 crore was 23.9 per cent higher over Rs 4,440 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 USD 9.6 on turning every barrel of crude oil into fuel in the quarter, compared to USD 6.8 per barrel gross refining margin in the same period a year ago.
Sales were up over 10 per cent to Rs 96,307 crore.
Debt soared to Rs 72,266 crore at the end of Q3, up from Rs 68,259 crore at the beginning of the fiscal. At quarter end, it had a cash pile of Rs 80,962 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 Rs 898.95 on BSE today. This is the highest close for RIL shares since October 28, 2011.
RIL shares have increased 7.2 per cent this year, adding to last year's 21 per cent surge, the most since 2009.
Ambani said RIL is investing Rs 100,000 crore in petrochemical sector.
"We are investing over Rs 100,000 crore by expanding our petrochemical capacities and adding value to our refining business," he said. "These investments will secure a significant change in RIL's earning capacity on commissioning of these projects".
RIL reported more than doubling of earnings before interest and taxation (EBIT) from the oil refining business at Rs 3,615 crore in the