India's JK Paper posts profit rises on strong demand

BENGALURU (Reuters) - India's JK Paper Ltd reported a roughly 65% rise in fourth-quarter profit on Tuesday, helped by higher prices for its papers and packaging boards and as some input costs eased.

The company's consolidated net profit after tax climbed to 2.80 billion rupees ($34.2 million) in the quarter ended March 31, from 1.70 billion rupees a year earlier.

JK Paper and other paper companies have benefited from rising demand from offices as work-from-office slowly reverts to the norm as well from e-commerce and other companies to substitute plastic, especially after India banned single-use plastics in mid-2022, for packaging and products such as drinking cups.

Earlier this month, Andhra Paper Ltd said its fourth-quarter profit more than doubled, while Tamil Nadu Newsprint and Papers Ltd, West Coast Paper Mills Ltd and TCPL Packaging are yet to report.

The strong demand has also helped paper companies push up their prices, helping their net sales realization, or NSR.

"Higher volume coupled with increased realisation led to better operating performance during the year," said JK Paper, which has its own mills and has bought a majority stake in two packaging companies last year.

JK Paper's revenue from its paper and board business, its only operating segment, clocked a growth of 28% to 17.04 billion rupees.

Its total costs rose nearly 26% in the fourth quarter, as some inputs costs eased. The rise in its expenses has previously slowed from 109% in the first quarter to about 40% in the third quarter.

Shares of JK Paper had fallen 6.7% during the quarter ended March, and dipped 8.5% so far this year, compared with gains of 2.5% to 10.5% in the stocks of Andhra Paper, Tamil Nadu Newsprint, West Coast Paper and TCPL. ($1 = 81.7800 Indian rupees)

(Reporting by Navamya Ganesh Acharya in Bengaluru; Editing by Savio D'Souza)