* Q4 net profit 54.1 bln rupees vs 50 bln rupees forecast
* Growth in sales, lower costs boost profits
MUMBAI, May 27 (Reuters) - Coal India Ltd, the
world's largest coal producer, posted a 35 percent increase in
fourth-quarter 2012/13 net profit, beating market estimates, on
the back of higher sales and lower-than-expected wage and fuel
The state-run miner said net profit for the January-March
quarter rose to 54.14 billion rupees ($974 million) from 40.13
billion a year earlier. Net sales rose 2.5 percent to 199.05
On average, analysts had forecast net profit of 49.97
billion rupees, according to Thomson Reuters Starmine data. The
company's financial year ended on March 31.
It reported employee expenses of 74.70 billion rupees,
compared to 94.66 billion a year ago, which included additional
provision of about 23 billion rupees, an official said.
Wage increases had forced the company to make a steep
provision during the same quarter last year, pushing up costs.
However, the wage bill has been spread uniformly in the current
fiscal year, officials said, explaining the lower costs.
Coal India produces about 80 percent of India's total coal
output, but growth has been stymied for years by delays in
environmental and regulatory approvals for mining projects.
The miner produced 452 million tonnes of coal in 2012/13, up
4 percent from a year earlier, but lower than its 464 million
tonne target for the year. Shipments rose 5.8 percent for the
fourth quarter to 129.95 million tonnes, the company said.
Coal India Chairman S Narsing Rao would not speculate on
whether the company planned to raise prices, although the issue
is politically sensitive in India where hundreds of millions of
people live in poverty and there is an election within a year.
Last year, its main clients the power companies protested
when prices were raised, forcing it to reverse the changes. Coal
India prices domestic coal at discounts to international prices
of between 45 and 70 percent.
Coal India shares have underperformed the main stock index
this year over worries about its inability to increase
production, but the stock remains an indicator of power demand
in Asia's third-largest economy and the company, with a market
value of $35.2 billion, is India's fifth-largest.
The government is planning to auction a 10 percent stake in
Coal India by August or September, sources told Reuters this
Coal India shares closed 1.2 percent higher, ahead of the
earnings in a strong Mumbai market.
($1 = 55.61 rupees)
(Reporting by Prashant Mehra; Additional reporting by Sujoy
Dhar in KOLKATA; Editing by Miral Fahmy and Mike Collett-White)