India's Reliance Industries posted a 27.8 percent rise in quarterly profit Saturday, in line with expectations, on rising refining margins and oil and gas production revenues.
Net profit for the July-Sept quarter was 49.2 billion rupees ($1.1 billion), up from 38.5 billion rupees in the year-ago period.
Total revenues rose 22.8 percent, to 599.6 billion rupees ($13.5 billion).
"Improving refining margins and high operating rates at all our manufacturing facilities led to a record quarter," chairman Mukesh Ambani said in a statement.
Reliance Industries is India's largest listed company, which has been looking beyond its core interests in petrochemicals and oil and gas, to fast-growing sectors like telecom and logistics.
Ambani, the world's fourth-richest person according to Forbes, is also keen to go global. This year, Reliance has signed joint ventures with three U.S. shale gas companies, which together are the largest investment ever by an Indian company in the United States.
The company had cash and cash equivalents of 293.5 billion rupees ($6.5 billion) at the end of September.
"For Reliance the biggest problem is to seek sizable growth," said IIFL Capital analyst Bhaskar Chakraborty. "To keep their competitive edge, they have to think big. You'll probably see some of that translate into overseas acquisitions."
He said the recent dip in natural gas prices in the U.S. will dampen Reliance's immediate appetite for further shale acquisitions.
"The economics of the deal could be threatened if natural gas prices remain as low as they have been in the near past," he said.
Reliance benefited from rising global demand, with export revenues up 55.5 percent for the half year, despite softening refining margins in the U.S. and Europe due to recent concerns about future growth.
Despite production setbacks from a pipeline problem and disappointing production from one basin, Reliance boosted oil and gas production revenues to 43.0 billion rupees ($970.7 million) for the quarter, up 46.5 percent from last year.
The company has yet to ramp up to full gas production from its main KGD6 basin off India's eastern coast. It runs two deepwater exploration rigs and said it expects to add a third by April.
The company operates the world's largest complex refinery in the western state of Gujarat, which processed 33.8 million metric tons of crude during the half year ended September. Refining margins, which are key to profitability, for the quarter were $7.90 a barrel, up from $6.00 a year ago. Revenues from refining rose 25.5 percent, to 496.7 billion rupees ($11.2 billion) during the quarter, on higher volumes and higher prices, the company said.