* Q4 profit 8.74 bln rupees vs 6.20 bln expected
* Volume growth offsets rising cost pressures
* Shares turn positive after results (Adds quote, details, share movement)
MUMBAI, May 30 (Reuters) - Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd , India's biggest utility vehicles maker, reported a forecast-beating 44 percent jump in quarterly profit, helped by an exceptional gain and strong volume growth in the face of rising input costs.
Mahindra, which controls over 40 percent of India's tractor market, the world's largest, said slowing economic growth in Asia's third-largest economy and escalating global risks meant the near-term outlook for the company was challenging.
"The growth in the profits of the company, despite the relentless increase in material costs, is due to good volume performance by both vehicles and tractors and tight control on expenses," the company said in a statement.
Mahindra, the flagship company of the $14.4 billion Mahindra Group, and the owner of South Korean carmaker Ssangyong Motor , said that it would continue to focus on cost controls to counter India's sluggish economic growth.
Shares in the automaker, valued at around $7.3 billion by the market, turned positive after the results, and were trading up 0.5 percent at 0840 GMT on a Mumbai market down 0.2 percent.
Mahindra's passenger car sales have defied a slowdown in India's car market that has hurt its local rivals such as Tata Motors and Maruti Suzuki, selling 27 percent more cars in the March quarter from a year previously.
Domestic tractor sales were down 14 percent in the period.
Net profit for January-March was 8.74 billion rupees ($156 million), against 6.06 billion rupees a year earlier. There was an exceptional gain of 1.08 billion rupees on a tax saving in the quarter.
Net sales rose 39 percent to 92.4 billion rupees.
Analysts on average expected profit of 6.20 billion rupees on revenues of 82.6 billion rupees, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. ($1 = 56.2 Indian rupees) (Reporting by Henry Foy; Editing by Ranjit Gangadharan)