India's Blue Dart Express Q3 profit falls on higher expenses

BENGALURU (Reuters) - Indian courier services provider Blue Dart Express reported a 28.2% fall in quarterly profit on Wednesday, as high fuel costs hit margins, while demand also slowed.

Net profit fell — for the first time since June 2020 — to 886.6 million rupees ($10.87 million) for the three months ended Dec. 31 from 1.23 billion rupees a year earlier.

Blue Dart said revenue from operations climbed 6.6% to 13.37 billion rupees, marking its slowest growth in the last nine quarters.

The Deutsche Post DHL Group-controlled firm is still grappling with high expenses as aviation turbine fuel (ATF) prices – which Motilal Oswal analysts say forms 40% of expenses for air express logistics firms – have not a tracked a recent fall in brent crude prices.

In addition to ATF prices, high inflation, rising wages and the rupee's depreciation against the U.S. dollar - that made imports more expensive - hurt revenue growth, the company said.

Until recently, Blue Dart had benefited from a post-pandemic-led online sales boom, as people have taken to the ease of shopping from the comforts of their homes after trying it out during the coronavirus lockdowns.

It had previously announced a 9.6% hike in average shipment prices for 2023 – which it undertakes annually to offset rising costs.

For the quarter, Blue Dart's core earnings margin was 12.3%, compared with 16.9% a year earlier, as total expenses jumped 11%.

($1 = 81.5800 Indian rupees)

(Reporting by Priya Sagar & Nandan Mandayam in Bengaluru; Editing by Nivedita Bhattacharjee)