Billionaire Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries Ltd on Friday reported a better-than-expected 12 per cent rise in December quarter net profit on improving oil-to-chemical business, strong continued momentum in retail and steady telecom unit Jio.
Consolidated net profit in October-December stood at Rs 13,101 crore, compared to Rs 11,640 crore net earning in the same period a year back, the company said in a statement.
While oil-to-chemical or O2C business improved quarter-on-quarter, it was lower than year-ago earnings but this was more than made good by a spurt in consumer-facing businesses of telecom and retail which now contribute to 51 per cent of earnings as compared to 37 per cent a year back.
About 56 per cent of the pre-tax profit (EBITDA) of Rs 8,483 comes from Jio and Reliance Retail.
Net income increase was further aided by a 20 per cent year-on-year decline in finance expenses due to cash coming in the digital unit, Jio Platforms and Reliance Retail from Google/financial investors respectively. Revenue was down 18.6 per cent at Rs 137,829 crore.
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Jio, the telecom arm, posted a 15.5 per cent quarter-on-quarter rise in net profit to Rs 3,489 crore as it added over 25 million subscribers and per user income rose to Rs 151 per month.
It had 410.8 million subscribers at the end of December. The average revenue per user (ARPU) compared with Rs 145 per month in the previous quarter.
A sharp recovery in fashion and lifestyle businesses helping retail get back to pre-COVID level saw the segment’s cash profit rise 76.3 per cent to Rs 2,482 crore.
Overall retail revenue was dragged down by transfer of fuel retailing business to a separate unit where UK’s BP Plc has 49 per cent stake, and one-off factors impacting grocery.
The firm added 327 new stores to take the total number to 12,201. The traditional O2C business EBITDA was down 28.1 per cent at Rs 8,756 crore on lower prices and pandemic impacting fuel demand. It, however, was up quarter-on-quarter.
Finance cost at Rs 4,326 crore was 29 per cent lower on a quarterly basis.
Reliance said it has completed fundraising from selling minority stakes in Jio Platforms Ltd — the unit that holds telecom and digital businesses, and Reliance Retail to global investors. It raised Rs 152,056 crore in Jio and Rs 47,265 cr in retail. A cumulative cash inflow of Rs 220,231 crore helped it turn into a net cash surplus company.
Gross debt fell to Rs 257,413 crore as of December-end when compared to Rs 336,294 crore as of March 2020, while cash at hand rose to Rs 220,524 crore from Rs 175,259 crore. Net debt stood at a negative (-) Rs 2,954 crore.
Commenting on the results, Mukesh Ambani, chairman and managing director, Reliance Industries Limited, said: “We have delivered strong operational results during the quarter with a robust revival in O2C and retail segments, and a steady growth in our digital services business.”
Stating that the world is now closing ranks for strong global action on climate change, he said this gives Reliance the right opportunity to accelerate its own ambitious new energy and new materials business wedded to the vision of clean and green development.
“In line with this vision, our O2C business has formally reorganised its reporting segments to reflect our new strategy and management matrix for this enterprise. The reorganised structure will facilitate holistic and agile decision making and enable us to pursue attractive new opportunities for growth, with strategic partnerships with the best and the biggest in this business globally,” he said.
“The O2C platform will increasingly move further downstream and become closer to customers. It will create planet-friendly and affordable energy and materials solutions to meet the growing needs of every sector of the Indian economy,” the company said.
This reorganisation meant that the company reported oil refining and petrochemical earnings under one consolidated head. No separate reporting of the refining business resulted in refining margins not being declared.
The start of gas production from newer discoveries in the eastern offshore KG-D6 block led to the company seeing its first pre-tax profits in the segment after many years. It reported a segment EBITDA of Rs 4 crore as compared to Rs 194 crore loss in the preceding quarter.
Reliance said it along with its partner BP has started production from the R Cluster, an ultra-deep-water gas field in block KG D6 off the east coast of India.
The two are “developing three deepwater gas projects in block KG D6 – R Cluster, Satellites Cluster and MJ – which together are expected to meet about 15 per cent of India’s gas demand by 2023,” the statement said. Reliance is the operator of KG-D6 with 66.67 per cent participating interest while BP holds 33.33 per cent stake.