UPDATE 1-L&T sees signs of Indian push on infrastructure

Thu Jan 24, 2013 6:52pm IST

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* On track to meet 15-20 pct growth in full-year orders

* Q3 net profit up 13 percent on strong order wins

* Seeing delay in payment from clients (Adds detail, executive quotes, background)

By Kaustubh Kulkarni and Aditi Shah

MUMBAI, Jan 24 (Reuters) - Indian construction and engineering group Larsen & Toubro beat forecasts for quarterly profit and it was seeing early signs of a government push on infrastructure spending which could boost future orders.

Sluggish industrial capital expenditure has squeezed orders for engineering majors such as L&T and Bharat Heavy Electricals , while big ticket energy and infrastructure projects in the country have been stalled by a host of factors.

In September, the government announced reforms aimed at attracting more foreign investment in infrastructure and cutting back on budget-busting subsidies in Asia's third-largest economy where the rate of growth is near a 10-year low.

"There are early signs of a government push on infrastructure investments," L&T chief financial officer R Shankar Raman said on Thursday.

L&T said net profit rose 13 percent rise to 11.2 billion rupees ($209 million) in the three months to December - its third quarter - on the back of strong order wins. That compared with a Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S forecast for 10.8 billion rupees.

Sales rose 10 percent to 154 billion rupees, against a forecast for 161 billion.

The company, whose order book is regarded as a bellwether for corporate confidence in the economy, said it should meet guidance for 15-20 percent order book growth in the full year to March.

L&T, whose order book stood at 1.62 trillion rupees at the end of December, said it expected to win orders worth 200-250 billion rupees in the January-March period.

It won new orders worth 195 billion rupees in its third quarter, up 14 percent year-on-year.

While there has been a delay in payment from some clients, there was no threat of default, it said. ($1 = 53.6850 rupees) (Editing by Dan Lalor)

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