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earnings | IST

HPCL Q4 net profit drops 99% on inventory, forex losses

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Hindustan Petroleum Corp Ltd (HPCL) on Tuesday reported a steep 99 per cent drop in its net profit to Rs 27 crore for the March quarter as refining margins plunged and inventory losses mounted because of a sharp fall in international oil prices.

Hindustan Petroleum Corp Ltd (HPCL) on Tuesday reported a steep 99 per cent drop in its net profit to Rs 27 crore for the March quarter as refining margins plunged and inventory losses mounted because of a sharp fall in international oil prices.
The company had posted a net profit of Rs 2,970 crore in the corresponding period a year ago.
"The drop in net profit was mainly because of inventory losses and exchange rate fluctuations," HPCL Chairman and Managing Director M K Surana told reporters.
The company suffered an inventory loss of Rs 4,113 crore in the January-March 2020 quarter as compared with an inventory gain of Rs 1,224 crore in the same period a year back, he said.
An inventory loss is booked when a company buys raw material (crude oil) at a particular price but by the time it is able to ship it to the refinery and process it, international rates have fallen. As refinery-gate prices are aligned to prevailing benchmark international rates, an inventory loss is booked. Inventory gain happens if the reverse happens.
Also, the company had a foreign exchange loss of Rs 975 crore as compared to a gain of 256 crore in January-March 2019.
HPCL had a negative earning of USD 1.23 on turning every barrel of crude oil into fuel in the quarter as compared to a gross refining margin of USD 4.51 a barrel last year.
"Not accounting for inventory losses, the GRM was USD 9.37 per barrel in Q4 of 2019-20 fiscal as compared to USD 0.85 a barrel in the same period a year back," he said.
For the January-March 2020 period, HPCL registered gross sales of Rs 71,268 crore as compared to Rs 72,840 crore for the period January to March 2019. "Sales were lower mainly on account of sharp fall in crude prices during the current quarter," he said.
HPCL recorded domestic sales volume of 9.25 million tonnes in the fourth quarter, against 10.03 million tonnes in the corresponding quarter of the previous financial year.
"The drop in sales is mainly due to the reduction in transportation fuel demand for fuel in the month of March 2020 due to nationwide lockdown to contain the spread of COVID 19," he said.
Demand has since last month started to pick up with the easing of lockdown restrictions and are now 82-85 per cent of the normal levels, he said adding demand had fallen to just 30 per cent in April.
By end June or early July, demand would reach 90 per cent, he said adding in the current quarter there will be inventory gains from oil prices rising from USD 13 per barrel to USD 40.
The firm's refineries at Mumbai and Visakh processed 4.54 million tonnes of crude during January-March.
"The financial year 2019-20 especially in the last quarter has seen unprecedented events like outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, leading to nationwide lockdowns and demand contraction on the back of generally sluggish global economic activities.
"This coupled with inability of oil-producing countries to reach a consensus to re-balance the supply-demand situation led to unprecedented volatility in crude oil and product prices and also in exchange rates. Surplus inventories, lower demand and geo-political situations led to one of the steepest fall in crude oil prices seen in the last two decades," Surana said.
The nationwide lockdown to contain the spread of the pandemic in India led to significant demand contraction in the last part of March 2020 necessitating regulated refinery operations.
"During this period, HPCL continued its operations without any disruption to ensure availability of LPG, petrol and diesel for essential services and general public while ensuring the safety and wellbeing of its stakeholders and the workforce," he added.
In the full financial year 2019-20, HPCL had a net profit of Rs 2,637 crore as compared to Rs 6,029 crore for the previous year. "The decrease in net profit is mainly because of the impact of inventory losses due to sharp fall in crude prices and exchange rate fluctuations," he said.
Gross sales in 2019-20 was Rs 2,86,250 crore, compared Rs 2,95,713 crore for the previous year.
HPCL achieved a combined gross refining margin of USD 1.02 per barrel during the year as compared to USD 5.01 per barrel during 2018-19. "GRMs were lower in comparison to previous year mainly due to inventory losses and reduced cracks in diesel, LPG and fuel oil," he said.
During 2019-20, HPCL achieved the highest-ever sales volume of 39.6 million tonnes compared to the previous year's sales of 38.7 million tonnes.
For the year 2019-20, HPCL has proposed a final dividend of Rs 9.75 per share.