- The numbers: Massive Indian conglomerate Reliance Industries posted a 32% increase in quarterly profit, driven by a rebound in its core refining business. Sales declined 1.4% thanks to weaker natural gas production.
- The takeaway: While the company—controlled by India’s richest man, Mukesh Ambani, worth more than $21 billion—has interests in a range of industries from telecommunications to textiles to retail, the heart of the business remains in petrochemicals. And Reliance continues to struggle to boost production at its KG-D6 oil field off India’s eastern coast, which contains India’s largest reserves. Production of crude oil and natural gas at the field was down 41% and 39% year-over-year during the quarter that ended in March.
- What’s interesting: But even with the ongoing production pains, Reliance generates a tremendous amount of cash. In fact, the company’s cash pile rose 117% in the year ended March 2011 and 125% in the year ended March 2012, when it was roughly $13.3 billion. That cash growth has slowed down somewhat over the last year, rising 15% to $15.3 billion at the end of March. But the company remains under pressure to find profitable ways to put the cash to good use.
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