Sesa Goa Ltd’s iron-ore production declined after the mining ban in Karnataka. It got worse after the company’s mines in Goa, too, were shut and, as a result, no iron ore was produced in the December quarter. The company’s metallurgical coke and pig iron businesses did contribute, but they are relatively small businesses when compared with iron ore.
Profit from its share in Cairn India Ltd was the real saviour. Sesa Goa’s revenue for the December quarter came in at Rs.227.5 crore, less than one-tenth of the figure in the year-ago quarter and down 21.1% from the September quarter.
It incurred a loss of Rs.165.7 crore in the December quarter, compared with a net profit of Rs.160.9 crore in the preceding three months.
But the main reason for this dip was a foreign exchange fluctuation-related loss of Rs.25 crore, compared with a gain of Rs.166 crore in the preceding quarter.
Net profit after adjusting minority interest declined by only 4.8%, as its share of Cairn’s profit was Rs.669 crore—higher when compared with Rs.464.4 crore in the preceding quarter.
With mining coming to a standstill, there is little that Sesa Goa can do on the ore-mining front except keep its expenses to a minimum and undertake only essential capital expenditure.
However, it will invest in its Liberian iron-ore mining project, spending about $350 million in the next 18 months, to bring the first phase of 4 million tonnes capacity on stream. The first shipments are expected in end-2013-14.
One key event that is awaited in the near term is the resumption of mining in Karnataka—Sesa Goa’s mines fall in the category B mines, which are next in line to reopen. That can immediately contribute to revenues and profits. But mining in Goa may resume only after a long interval.
Another trigger will be the completion of legal formalities for consolidating Vedanta’s Indian investments in Sesa Goa. That will add revenue streams from crude oil and various non-ferrous metals businesses, and minimize its dependence on iron ore.
That may happen in the current quarter. When it does, the company will have better news to report to shareholders than it does now. Optimism that this may happen soon may be the reason behind a 2.8% increase in its share price on Friday, despite a poor showing in the quarter.