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Reliance profit rises as refining margins gain

Kay Johnson, Associated Press

MUMBAI, India (AP) -- Reliance Industries, India's most valuable company, said Tuesday its annual profit rose 4.8 percent as improved refining margins offset lower earnings from oil and gas production.

The company controlled by billionaire Mukesh Ambani reported a net profit of 210 billion rupees ($3.9 billion) for the fiscal year ended March 31.

"Reliance has delivered another year of strong operating performance in an environment of continued volatile economic conditions," Ambani said in a statement. "The growth in earnings was largely driven by strong and improved refining margins during the year."

Reliance's earnings had declined for four straight quarters until the October-December quarter of 2012 when results showed a turnaround.

For the January-March quarter, net profit of 55.8 billion rupees ($1 billion) was up 32 percent from a year earlier. Its gross refining margin for the quarter rose to $10.10 a barrel from $7.60 a barrel a year earlier.

The annual profit beat the average forecast of 208 billion rupees ($3.8 billion) in a FactSet poll of analysts.

Annual earnings before interest and tax in the conglomerate's refining business were up 32.5 percent to 128 billion rupees ($2.4 billion). Earnings from oil and gas production fell by 45 percent to 29 billion rupees ($536 million) for the year.

Reliance's stock rose 1.4 percent on the Bombay Stock Exchange on Tuesday ahead of announcement, which came after markets closed.