New Delhi: It was an important week for corporate India with many industry giants announcing their first quarter earnings. On Monday a Mint survey of 137 companies that declared their first quarter results showed that earnings had grown at the fastest pace on year-on-year basis in eight quarters. The survey fanned hopes of an early recovery, and many bellwether companies didn’t disappoint.
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Net profits for India’s largest GSM phone operator Airtel, rose 24% to Rs2,517 crore. Top mortgage lender HDFC saw its net profits go up 21% to Rs565 crore. And India’s biggest automaker Maruti Suzuki, showed an impressive 25% spike in net profits, making Rs584 crore this quarter.
There were gains for the consumer goods industry as well. ITC’s net profits were up by than 17% at Rs879 crore, while IT giant Wipro saw a 12% rise to Rs1,016 crore. But the disappointment this week was ONGC. The company’s net profit fell 27% to Rs4,848 crore.
Earnings were not the only good news for Indian industry this week. Several of its companies also raised billions of dollars overseas. Last week Vedanta’s subsidiary, Sterlite, raised $1.5 billion in the US through American Depositor Receipts. This week, Tata Steel raised $500 million through global depository receipts, Tata Power got $335 million, and Suzlon picked up $108 million.
On Monday the Supreme Court scheduled the next hearing in the gas supply dispute between the Ambani brothers, to the first of September. But there is now a third party to the dispute. The court also accepted a government petition, asking it to scrap the 2005 agreement between Mukesh Ambani’s RIL and Anil Ambani’s RNRL. But that wasn’t all. Barely a day later the state-run power company NTPC asked the attorney general for his opinion in the government’s petition. NTPC is fighting a similar case with RIL.
The department of telecommunication is planning to bring telecom tower companies under its new uniform license fee regime and wants to impose a 9% fee on them. India’s phone companies share part of their revenue with the government, but their telecom towers do not, because they’re formed as separate companies or subsidiaries.
Modern retailers in India’s cities have been struggling to cope with the global slowdown, but some have been hit worse than others. US-based My Dollar Store has closed about three-fourths of its stores in India, and now runs just 14 of them. The company had earlier planned to open 400 stores across India by the end of 2009.
Organized retail chains in India’s cities may be shutting stores and losing money, but in rural India, it’s a very different story. Companies like ITC run some 6,000 outlets in India’s villages, and DCM Shriram plans to open another 200 of its Hariyali stores in rural areas over the next two years. Unlike urban chains, Hariyali focuses on selling agricultural products, and giving farmers expert advice. Analysts say rural retail is booming because real estate costs are still low and people in India’s villages have been largely insulated from the economic downturn.
For a few moments on Wednesday, day became night across Asia in the longest total solar eclipse we’ll see this century. Thousands from across the world flocked to northern India to witness the spectacle.