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Coal India Q2 net lower than forecast

Coal India Q2 net lower than forecast

Mumbai: State-run Coal India, the world’s largest coal miner, posted a lower-than-expected quarterly net profit of 2593 crore ($517.3 million) as a price increase in February failed to boost profitability despite higher-than-expected sales.

Coal India, which produces nearly 80% of the coal in India, has been unable to meet growing power demand in Asia’s third-largest economy from power and steel projects.

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Coal accounts for more than half of India’s power generation, and the country is likely to import 135 million tonnes of coal in the financial year that began 1 April, spurred by demand that is forecast to grow 11% a year.

India holds about 10% of the world’s coal reserves, but has struggled to provide enough fuel to its under-performing power sector because of policy challenges ranging from land acquisition to green clearances for mining and tariff subsidy programmes.

The Kolkata-based company said consolidated sales in July-September stood at 13148 crore.

A Reuters poll of brokerages had forecast a net profit of 2850 crore for the quarter on net sales of 130.9 billion.

The company, in which the Indian government sold a 10% stake for $3.4 billion in the country’s largest IPO ever last November, did not provide comparable numbers for the corresponding quarter last year as it was unlisted then.

However, on a half-yearly basis, its consolidated profit rose to 6737 crore in April-September as compared with 4020 crore a year earlier, it said.

The company has raised coal prices by 30% since February for some of its customers.

Coal India prices coal about two-thirds lower than global prices, in part because of comparatively low quality coal. Despite the price increase, its coal prices remain 30 to 60% lower than international rates.

Global thermal coal prices have been trading at about $120 a tonne, more than 20% higher than prices a year ago when prices were below $100 per tonne.

Coal India, which this month received government approval for acquiring unlisted coal assets overseas, has been on the lookout for coal mines abroad, but has faced stiff competition from global rivals as well as private sector Indian companies.

The miner, which is negotiating wage increases with its five recognized unions, is expected to effect the next round of price increases once these are finalized.

It is likely to make provision for 2500 crore this fiscal year for a likely wage increase, a senior finance official had said earlier.

Shares in Coal India, the country’s fourth-most valuable firm at about $41 billion, closed unchanged at 326.10 on Friday, in a weak Mumbai market.

The stock, which closed at 326.10 rupees on Friday, has risen 3.6% in 2011, outperforming a nearly 16% decline in the main index.