Grasim, the Aditya Birla Group's flagship company performance for Q1FY 2009

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Mumbai, July 25 (ANI/Business Wire India): Grasim, an Aditya Birla Group company, today announced its results for the quarter ended June 30.

The company's revenues for the quarter were at Rs.4, 430 crores (Rs.4, 060 crores). Net Profit was marginally higher at Rs.672 crores (Rs.670 crores). Viewed in the context of the general slowdown of economy and spiralling prices of key inputs, the performance has been satisfactory.

Viscose Staple Fibre (VSF) Business

The VSF business' performance during the quarter was muted. Production was curtailed due to lower off-take. The liquidation of accumulated inventory in the value chain, substitution of VSF with other fibres on account of high VSF prices and general slowdown of the economy impacted the performance. Margins were depressed due to the record increase in sulphur prices and higher prices of other key inputs like Pulp and Caustic.

Margins are likely to remain under pressure in the short to medium term, owing to the escalating prices of key inputs. The demand for VSF is expected to remain subdued in the short term until the inventory in the pipeline gets liquidated and re-substitution sets in with increasing prices of Cotton and Polyester Staple Fibre. he business will continue its focus on value added products and market enlargement through promotion of specialty fibres, both in domestic and export markets. The long-term outlook for VSF business is positive, given the growing preference for comfort fabrics due to global warming.

Chemical Plant

The Chemical plant posted an improved performance. Caustic soda volumes were higher by 11 per cent at 47,800 tons. Realisations grew by 30 per cent at Rs.22,352 per ton. The outlook for Chemical business appears to be good, given the higher demand from user industry and expected strengthening of international prices.

Cement Business

The Company's Cement business posted a moderate performance. Production increased by 3 per cent at 3.99 million tons. Sales volumes were marginally higher at 3.97 million tons. Volumes in RMC business grew by 61 per cent due to the commissioning of new plants. The continuous rise in coal prices along with higher freight, employee and packing costs has led to a decline in operating margins.

Cement Subsidiary

The performance of UltraTech Cement Limited (UltraTech), a subsidiary of Grasim, improved marginally. Domestic cement sales were higher by 4 per cent at 3.81 million tons. Exports were affected on account of the ban imposed by the Government for six weeks during the quarter. Net Profit remained flat at Rs.261 crores.

Cement Capex plan

The expansions at Shambhupura, Rajasthan (of Grasim) and at Tadpatri, Andhra Pradesh (of UltraTech) are expected to be operational in Q2FY09, while that at Kotputli, Rajasthan (of Grasim) should go on stream in Q4FY09. Post expansion, the Company's aggregate cement capacity will stand augmented at 48.8 million tons.

The escalation in fuel prices and bunching of capacity expected in the next couple of years, based on announced plans of the industry, is expected to impact the margins of the Company's Cement business. However, the additional volumes arising from the new capacities, which will become operational during the current year, should compensate for the decline in margins. Further, the impetus on development of infrastructure by the Government should bode well for the Company's Cement business in the long term.

Sponge Iron Business

The production of sponge iron was lower by 27 per cent during the quarter on account of the planned maintenance shutdown. As a result, Sales volumes declined by 35 per cent at 91,206 tons. Realisations led by the substantial rise in global scrap prices, were higher by 62 per cent at Rs.24, 027 per ton, leading to higher operating profit.

The Board of Directors of the Company had, at its meeting held in June, 2008, approved the sale or transfer of the Sponge Iron business, on a slump sale basis. The divestment would be done under a Court approved Scheme of Arrangement under Sections 391-394 of the Companies Act, 1956.

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