Zinc ingots cool in the rotary foundry room (Photographer: Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg)

India's Vedanta Swings to Profit After Metal Rally, Zinc Payout

(Bloomberg) -- Vedanta Ltd. reported a fourth-quarter profit as India’s biggest base metals producer benefited from a rally in prices and a special dividend announced by its zinc arm.

Net income attributable to owners was 14.1 billion rupees ($220 million) in the three months through March and revenues were 246.1 billion rupees, the unit of London-listed Vedanta Resources Plc said in a statement Monday. That compares with a loss of 138.4 billion rupees a year ago because of a writedown at its oil unit.

A surge in zinc prices globally saw profit at unit Hindustan Zinc Ltd. surge 43 percent in the quarter from a year earlier and the company announced a record payout to investors in March. Vedanta’s billionaire chairman Anil Agarwal got another lift in April after shareholders approved merging the company with his Indian energy business, Cairn India Ltd., as he bids to create a resources heavyweight in the mold of Australia’s BHP Billiton Ltd.

A near-$1.2 billion windfall from Vedanta’s 65 percent stake in Hindustan Zinc and access to about $4 billion in cash at Cairn India will help soften concerns over its debt pile, according to ratings agencies. Vedanta’s gross debt stood at 636.6 billion rupees at the end of March, while cash and liquid investments were 634.7 billion rupees, according to the company.

“Our strategic focus to ramp up production across the portfolio namely in zinc, aluminum, power and iron ore businesses throughout the year has supplemented revenue growth,” outgoing Chief Executive Officer Tom Albanese said in the statement. Record production of zinc and aluminum and cost management initiatives also helped the company boost profits, he said.

Vedanta’s stock rose 1.8 percent to close at 241 rupees on Monday, putting it up 11 percent for the year. Zinc prices in London advanced 36 percent in the past year due to a shortfall in production of the metal used to galvanize steel.