* Q1 sales up 25 pct to 91 bln rupees
* Forecasts had called for 85.1 bln rupees - Starmine
MUMBAI, July 29 ITC Ltd, India's
largest cigarette maker, reported a better-than-expected 25
percent rise in quarterly sales as demand for smaller and
cheaper cigarettes grew and its consumer goods business put in a
India's fourth-biggest company by market value said net
sales rose to 91.6 billion rupees ($1.5 billion), up by a
quarter from the year-earlier period and beating a consensus
forecast of 85.1 billion rupees from Thomson Reuters Starmine.
Net profit fell marginally short of expectations, rising 16
percent to 21.9 billion rupees ($364 million) for the quarter
ended June 30, compared with an estimate of 22.2 billion rupees.
ITC sells four out of every five cigarettes sold in India
and is nearly 25 percent-owned by British American Tobacco
ITC's consumer goods business, which includes packaged foods
and personal care products, grew 11 percent.
Sharp hikes in excise duties of 11-72 percent announced for
the Indian federal budget 2014/15 in June are likely to hurt
sales volumes by an estimated 3.5 to 4 percent in the current
fiscal year, analysts have said.
($1 = 60.1050 Indian Rupees)
(Reporting by Nandita Bose; Editing by Stephen Coates and