MUMBAI (NewsRise) -- Indian mining and energy group Vedanta posted a more than four-fold jump in third-quarter profit, as it expanded output of aluminum, power and iron ore in a stable climate for commodity prices.
Vedanta, controlled by billionaire Anil Agarwal, said profit for the October-December quarter rose to 18.66 billion rupees ($279 million) from 4.12 billion rupees a year earlier. Brokerage ICICI Securities had expected the company to report a net income of 19.54 billion rupees.
Net sales of the company, which has businesses ranging from oil and gas, iron ore, zinc, copper, power and aluminum, grew more than 30% to 203.93 billion rupees.
Chief Executive Officer Tom Albanese said the operating performance was driven by expansion in volume and cost controls, along with higher commodity prices. Zinc prices rose 12% sequentially, while aluminum prices rose 6%, ICICI Securities said in a note last month.
"Our financial position remains robust, and we continue to strengthen our balance sheet by maximising free cash flow and reducing debt," Albanese said in a statement.
Vedanta, owned by London-listed Vedanta Resources, is recovering from a slump in prices of aluminum and iron ore. The company is trying to simplify its structure and buy out cash generating units in a bid to reduce its debt burden.
Albanese said the merger between Vedanta and Cairn India is likely to be completed in the first quarter of this year. Last year, Cairn India's minority shareholders approved the miner's sweetened takeover bid that was delayed for more than a year amid valuation concerns.
Vedanta's net debt fell 4.47 billion rupees to 115.14 billion rupees at the end of December on account or positive free cash flow.
Last month, Moody's Investors Service said modestly rising commodity prices, along with ramp ups in production and continuing cost rationalization initiatives, will improve Vedanta's profitability, and enhance earnings and cash flow.
Shares of Vedanta closed 1.05% lower in Mumbai trading on Tuesday, while the benchmark S&P BSE Sensex lost 0.04%.
-- Dhanya Ann Thoppil