India's ACC posts 39.5% fall in Q4 profit as expenses rise

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BENGALURU (Reuters) - Indian cement maker ACC Ltd reported a 39.5% fall in fourth-quarter profit on Thursday, hurt by higher expenses.

Standalone profit after tax fell to 2.37 billion Indian rupees ($29.00 million) for the three months ended March 31, from 3.92 billion rupees a year earlier.

Cement prices have remained muted through the quarter, analysts said, hurting margins even as the cost of key fuels used in cement-making - imported coke and coal - softened at the end of the December quarter and continuing into the March quarter.

ACC's earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) margins fell to 8.6% from 12.2%, a year ago.

For ACC, power and fuel expenses fell 9.4%, while total expenses rose 14% on the back of higher input costs.

It also saw a one-off expense of 664.2 million rupees related to a restructuring cost, ACC said.

Indian ports-to-energy conglomerate Adani Group had ventured into cement-making last year with its $10.5 billion acquisition of Holcim AG's cement businesses in India - Ambuja Cements Ltd and its subsidiary ACC.

Revenue from operations rose 8.2% to 47.91 billion rupees.

ACC shares have fallen about 26% since Jan. 24 after U.S. short seller Hindenburg Research's scathing note on Adani Group companies.

While the group has denied all allegations, ACC said on Thursday an independent law firm's review of Hindenburg's allegations had confirmed the company's compliance with applicable laws and regulations.

Rival Indian cement manufacturer Dalmia Bharat Ltd reported a March-quarter profit that more than doubled on a pickup in demand, while top industry player Ultratech Cement Ltd is due to report results on Friday.

($1 = 81.7380 Indian rupees)

(Reporting by Dimpal Gulwani in Bengaluru; Editing by Janane Venkatraman and Pooja Desai)