Q2 roundup: Indian cos get festive boost; almost 62% post profit rise

By Nivedita Bhattacharjee and Gaurav Dogra

BENGALURU (Reuters) - Almost two-thirds of the near 200 Indian companies with market capitalization of $100 million and more have reported a rise in profit for the September quarter, data tracked by Reuters showed

Of the 191 companies tracked, 118 reported a rise in profit, Refinitiv data showed, with almost 90% of those logging in a rise in quarterly revenue.

Apparel retailers, restaurants, banks, construction companies all saw a rise in sales and orders, as the country geared up for the first pandemic-free festive season in two years.

Consumers bought up food and other supplies even through burning price inflation.

GRAPHIC: Nearly 90% of Indian companies report topline increases https://graphics.reuters.com/COMPANIES-RESULTS/mopakmezqpa/chart.png)

"There is definitely a festive boost which cannot be denied and which is reflected in earnings performance," said Vivek Kumar, economist at Mumbai-based QuantEco Research.

"There was also some comfort on input prices moderating in the quarter, and a boost from pent-up demand. All these factors came together to help."

Retail sales in India peaks during Diwali, the festival of lights, when Indians usually splurge on apparel, accessories, consumer goods and automobiles. This year's Diwali fell on Oct. 24.

"It's the first Diwali after COVID where people are able to get out and mingle with their friends and family and that's definitely helping," Shoppers Stop Ltd Chief Executive Officer Venu Nair told Reuters, after the department store chain posted a profit in the September quarter, over a loss in the year ago.

Nair said he expects sales in the festive quarter to top pre-pandemic levels.

Maruti Suzuki, India's top carmaker, reported a four-fold jump in quarterly profit, while construction bellwether Larsen & Toubro Ltd saw a spike in order inflows on a resurgence in investments in infrastructure, with several buildings, factories, metros, and other project works underway as Covid-related restrictions eased.

L&T's earnings are often seen by analysts as a proxy to the capital expenditure in the economy, as it undertakes public and private infrastructure projects.

India's capital expenditure rose almost 50% over last year to 3.43 trillion rupees in the April-September period, government data showed.

Meanwhile, Anarock Property Consultants predicts housing sales this year to breach the previous peak of 2014 led by strong momentum in festive demand and robust performance in the first three quarters.

GRAPHIC: Financials lead Q2 profit gains for Indian companies (https://graphics.reuters.com/COMPANIES-RESULTS/movakmgzzva/chart.png)

Restaurant revenues rose more than 90% over last year, followed by apparel and accessories, power, construction, chemicals, banks and autos, Refinitiv data showed.

State Bank of India (SBI), the country's largest lender, reported record quarterly profit and forecast credit growth to remain in double-digits.

GRAPHIC: Most Indian companies report upbeat Q2 profits (https://graphics.reuters.com/COMPANIES-RESULTS/klvygewonvg/chart.png)

"In (an) uncertain and fragile global economic environment, the Indian economy has showed resilience," SBI Chairman Dinesh Kumar Khara said in an earnings conference call.

Indicators of aggregate demand show that the onset of festive season and the pent-up demand kept growth impulse very strong, he added.

Even those companies, including Adani Wilmar, owner of the Fortune cooking oil brand, whose demand in rural India has been tepid, have said sales are rebounding on the back of easing prices of a few essentials and late revival in monsoon rains.

India's retail inflation accelerated in September to a five-month high of 7.41% as food prices surged, but analysts said most of the impact has been baked into estimates by markets, as well as customers.

"Inflation is in amber zone currently and is expected to transition to the green zone in next two quarters," QuantEco's Kumar said.

India's inflation likely slowed to 6.73% in October on weaker food prices and a strong base a year ago, a Reuters poll of economists predicted.

"With monetary policy response already attuned to it, the impact on domestic demand conditions is likely to be mild," Kumar added.

"The anticipated sharp slowdown in external demand will be a dampener for earnings in the upcoming quarters."

(Reporting by Nivedita Bhattacharjee in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by Praveen Paramasivam and Aftab Ahmed in New Delhi; Editing by Dhanya Ann Thoppil)