Indian equity markets traded firm throughout the trading session today. The indices began the day's proceedings on a firm note and the subsequent hours saw them inching upwards as buying intensified across index heavyweights. However, while the afternoon session saw the indices pare some gains, they nevertheless closed today's session above the dotted line. While the BSE Sensex closed higher by 47 points, the NSE-Nifty closed higher by 10 points. The BSE Mid Cap and the BSE Small Cap, however, were not spared as both closed marginally lower. Gains were largely seen in IT and auto stocks.
As regards global markets, most Asian indices closed firm today while European indices have opened on a mixed note. The rupee was trading at Rs 53.80 to the dollar at the time of writing.
Most cement stocks closed firm today with the key gainers being Madras Cements, Shree Cement and ACC. ACC announced results for the fourth quarter of the calendar year 2012 (4QCY12). On a consolidated basis, net sales increased marginally by 1.9% YoY during the quarter as volumes remained almost flat due to difficult market conditions. Operating margins contracted from 14.4% in 4QCY11 to 11.7% in 4QCY12. Other income rose by 37.8% YoY, while interest expenses increased by 42.4% YoY. Lower operating margins and higher interest expenses caused the profit before tax (PBT) to decline by 12.7% YoY. Net profits declined by 46% YoY on account of higher tax incidence during the quarter. During the calendar year 2012 (CY12), while sales increased by 11.3% YoY, net profits dropped by 18.6% YoY.
As per a leading business daily, Exide Industries is looking to raise prices for replacement auto batteries by 5-6%. This is on account of rising input costs. Lead is the key raw material for the company and this pricing action will be done in order to offset the impact of higher lead prices. It must be noted that the company's results for 3QFY13 were quite subdued. While Exide did manage to grow revenues by 17% YoY during the quarter on account of healthy growth in the replacement market, the OEM segment did not do well. More importantly, the company's operating margins were impacted as raw material costs increased from 66.7% of sales in 3QFY12 to 67.2% in 3QFY13 on account of higher lead prices. The stock closed marginally higher.