Mumbai: UltraTech Cement Ltd, country’s largest cement maker, has reported a 36% rise in its net profit for the quarter ended 31 December, driven by lower operating costs.

It reported a consolidated profit after tax of 546 crore for the quarter, up from 400 crore reported in the same period a year ago. Total net sales for the company rose 5% to 6,108 crore from 5,832 crore reported a year ago.

“Though cement prices remained subdued, the performance during the quarter was encouraging, driven by operational efficiencies, judicious fuel mix and lower energy costs. This has led to lower operating costs," the company said in its statement to the BSE on Wednesday.

Total expenses for the October-December period rose to 5,334 .59 crore, 2% higher from 5,216.52 crore reported a year ago. Finance costs for the company also fell 15% to 139.35 crore from 164.03 crore a year ago.

For the October-December 2015 period, the company said it sold 11.26 million tonnes of grey cement and 3.38 million tonnes of white cement, 7% higher from the year-ago period.

Cement prices in most of the regional markets in India have been subdued due to weak demand from sectors like infrastructure, real estate and rural India.

The company, in its statement, said, it expects demand to pick up in the near term. However, analysts tracking the sector are skeptical of any significant demand revival before the end of the current financial year.

Ultratech shares fell 0.73% to close at 2,625.20 on the BSE on Wednesday, while India’s benchmark Sensex index fell 1.71% to close at 24,062.04 points.