India's Shriram Finance beats Q4 profit view on strong loan demand

BENGALURU (Reuters) - Indian non-banking financial company Shriram Finance reported a bigger-than-expected 49% rise in fourth-quarter profit on Friday, driven by robust demand for vehicle loans.

Profit rose to 19.46 billion rupees ($233.5 million) in the quarter ended March 31, beating analysts' average estimate of 19.06 billion rupees, as per LSEG data.

Indian lenders have consistently reported robust loan growth over the past few quarters, driven by higher consumer spending following the pandemic.

Analysts said lenders like Shriram Finance benefited from the demand for used commercial vehicles (CVs) during the quarter after prices of new CVs increased last year following emission policy changes.

Vehicle loan is the largest segment for Shriram Finance, accounting for about 70% of its total assets under management. The lender also offers loans secured against gold and for the purchase of construction equipment.

Interest income rose about 22% to 90.77 billion rupees, while expenses rose nearly 17% due to higher finance costs.

Net interest income, the difference between interest earned and paid, rose 20% from a year earlier, while net interest margin, a key metric of profitability, improved to 9.02% from 8.55% a year earlier.

Shriram Finance's total assets under management rose to 2.25 trillion rupees as of end-March from 2.14 trillion at the end of December.

The company's shares ended 0.3% higher after the results.

($1 = 83.3286 Indian rupees)

(Reporting by Nishit Navin; Editing by Eileen Soreng)