India Cements posts loss of ₹24 cr. in Q4 as coal prices soar

The India Cements Ltd. has reported a net loss of ₹24 crore for the fourth quarter ended March against a standalone net profit of ₹72 crore in the year-earlier period on account of an almost fivefold increase in the prices of imported coal and loss of volume.

“Fourth quarter was a fighting quarter,” N. Srinivasan, vice chairman and managing director.

“Coal, which we were importing, went up from $60 per tonne to almost $300 per tonne. We could do nothing but sit and watch. I wanted to increase the price, but it was not possible.”

Besides, he also said, the volumes during the quarter in South were impacted by the pandemic and unseasonal rains, affecting sales in Mangaluru.

“My OPC/PPC mix also changed, affecting the cost of production. My cost went up. To compensate the cost increase, I have decided to increase the price per bag on June 1, June 15 and July 1 by ₹20, ₹15 and ₹20 respectively. Whether others will support me or increase the price, it is remains to be seen,” he said.

During the period under review, revenue from operations contracted by 4% to ₹1,392 crore. ICL sold 26.29 lakh tonnes of cement (26.66 lakh tons) and 0.28 lakh tonnes of clinker (3.24 lakh tons), it said in a statement.

Mr. Srinivasan also said that they were planning to monetise their assets to repay the debts. “I have 26,000 acres of land in AP and Tamil Nadu. I am not a distressed seller. I have appointed a team of experts to decide. The amount will be used to repay the debts and make some improvements in plants,” he said.

As of March 2022, ICL had atotal debt of ₹3,000 crore. Last fiscal, it repaid ₹551 crore and this fiscal it is planned to repay ₹500 crore. There would be no change in the planned capex. It would be used for some balancing equipment and waste heat recovery plant in Andhra Pradesh, he said.

On the outlook, he said recovery was challenged by heightened global risks stemming from Ukraine crisis, worsening supply disruptions, spike in international energy and commodity prices, volatile crude oil prices and elevated inflation. The cost pressure is expected to mount on industry with higher fuel and commodity prices besides increased power tariffs and logistics costs.

With house building and construction activity expected to continue and the Centre and States giving push to infrastructure spending and affordable housing, there is room for cautious optimism for cement demand in the near future, he said.

On Friday, the board declared a dividend of ₹1 per share.

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