India Cements' quarterly loss narrows on cost-control measures

(Reuters) - India Cements reported on Monday a narrower loss in the fourth quarter, as a tighter lid on costs helped cushion the impact from a revenue drop amid lower cement prices.

The South India-focused cement firm's losses came in at 293.3 million rupees ($3.5 million) for the January-March period, compared with a loss of 2.18 billion rupees last year. This is the company's fifth consecutive loss-making quarter.

Lower fuel and transport costs helped drop total expenses in the reported quarter by 18%, outpacing a 14.7% revenue slump after cement prices fell to two-year lows.

KEY CONTEXT

Cement prices fell 5% sequentially in the January-March period, as makers unveiled discounts to meet fiscal year-end volume targets and stave off tough competition.

Lower prices-led volumes push had helped larger peers such as ACC and UltraTech Cement to report better-than-expected profit and Dalmia Bharat to post a smaller-than-expected profit fall.

PEER COMPARISON

Valuation (next 12 months) Estimates (next 12 Analysts' sentiment

months)

RIC PE EV/EBITDA Revenue growth (%) Mean # of Stock to

rating* analysts price

target**

India Cements Ltd 35.80 14.05 10.78 SELL 5 1.19

JK Lakshmi Cement 15.28 7.93 11.79 BUY 11 0.82

Ltd

Ramco Cements 26.50 11.39 10.65 HOLD 20 0.78

Limited

Nuvoco Vistas 35.25 8.37 6.00 BUY 18 0.81

Corporation Ltd

* Mean of analysts' ratings standardised to a scale of Strong Buy, Buy, Hold, Sell, and Strong Sell

** Ratio of the stock's last close to analysts' mean price target; a ratio above 1 means the stock is trading above the PT

JANUARY-MARCH STOCK PERFORMANCE

-- All data from LSEG

-- $1 = 83.2640 Indian rupees

(Reporting by Anisha Ajith and Hritam Mukherjee in Bengaluru; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips)