India's Marico beats Q3 profit view on strong product demand

CHENNAI (Reuters) - India's consumer goods major Marico reported a bigger-than-expected increase in quarterly profit on Friday, on the back of higher demand for its cooking and hair oil.

The company, known for its Parachute hair oil brand, said its net profit rose to 3.28 billion rupees ($40.08 million) for the quarter ended Dec. 31, from 3.1 billion rupees, a year earlier.

Analysts polled by Refinitiv, on an average, were expecting 3.23 billion rupees.

The company, which also sells Saffola cooking oil, said revenue from operations increased to 24.7 billion rupees from 24.07 billion rupees last year.

Marico's total expenses rose 2% in the reported quarter, slowing from a 4% increase in the second quarter.

The Indian consumer goods sector has been growing over the years on rising household income and changing lifestyles, with consumers increasingly snubbing unbranded products.

According to market analytics firm NielsenIQ, demand from rural regions was subdued during the December quarter as spending was tightened in the face of inflation.

Dabur India Ltd, which makes personal care products, reported a 5% drop in third-quarter profit on Thursday, on lacklustre demand from rural customers.

However, with prices of essentials easing and farm income picking up, demand is expected to gradually recover.

($1 = 81.8320 Indian rupees)

(Reporting by Praveen Paramasivam in Chennai; editing by Eileen Soreng)