Special Correspondent

CHENNAI: The India Cements has reported a profit before tax of Rs. 844.64 crore for the year ended March 31, 2008, up from Rs. 491.96 crore in the previous year, representing a growth of 72 per cent.

The figures for the quarter ended March 31, 2007, included the financials of erstwhile Visaka Cement Industry for nine months and, hence, are not comparable with the current quarter. However, the operating profit for the fourth quarter of the year under review amounts to Rs. 295.43 crore as compared to Rs. 265.27 crore in the same period in the previous year.

20% dividend

Sales and other income for the year under review were up at Rs. 3,605.61 crore (Rs. 2,620.88 crore). The operating profit before interest and depreciation improved to Rs. 1,130.56 crore (Rs. 744.39 crore). The operating margin improved to 36.5 per cent from 32.8 per cent. The board has recommended a dividend of 20 per cent 2007-08.

Addressing a press conference here on Monday, N. Srinivasan, Vice-Chairman and Managing Director, said the improvement in operating margin was primarily due to factors such as good price realisation and increase in sales of blended cement. Net of excise duty, the price realisation per tonne of cement was around Rs. 600 more compared to last year.

He said the company would set up an RMC (ready mix concrete) plant in Hyderabad.