India's Adani Wilmar profit rises 16%, shrugs off Hindenburg report impact

CHENNAI (Reuters) - Fortune brand-owner Adani Wilmar on Wednesday reported a 16% increase in quarterly profit on higher demand for its cooking oil and packaged foods and said U.S. short-seller Hindenburg Research's report had no bearing on its operations.

"A research report dated Jan. 24, 2023, has been issued by a short-seller based in the United States, wherein allegations have been made on certain governance and transactions matters involving some of the Adani group entities and its shareholders," the consumer goods maker said in a statement.

"The management of the group is confident that the research report has no bearing on the group's operations and its financial results," it added.

Hindenburg had in its report said it held short positions in the group, and accused the conglomerate of improper use of offshore tax havens, flagging concerns about high levels of debt, and erasing more than $110 billion off the market value of its seven core listed companies.

Ahead of the earnings, Adani Wilmar's shares added 5%. Through the last close, they had lost roughly 30% since Hindenburg raised concerns.

Consolidated net profit rose to 2.46 billion rupees ($29.81 million) for the third quarter that ended Dec. 31, according to an exchange filing.

Revenue from operations increased 7% to 154.38 billion rupees.

Inflation-hit consumers in rural India, who switched to unbranded cheaper alternatives during the pandemic, have begun spending more with the easing pace of price hikes.

"The quarter also saw macro tailwinds in the form of strong demand on the back of festivities and weddings, gradual recovery in rural markets and a bumper kharif crop," Adani Wilmar said in a statement.

Adani Wilmar, a joint venture between Adani Group and Singapore's Wilmar Group, said revenue from the edible oil business, its largest, climbed nearly 4% on the festive and wedding demand.

Food and fast-moving consumer goods business reported a near-45% jump, with the company now looking to tap into "a huge opportunity" by increasing distribution in rural towns and launching region-specific ready-to-cook products.

Last week, Saffola brand-owner Marico also reported quarterly profit above estimates.

Wilmar International will stand by its joint venture with Adani Group, Bloomberg had reported last week.

($1 = 82.5140 Indian rupees)

(Reporting by Praveen Paramasivam in Chennai; Editing by Dhanya Ann Thoppil)