* Q2 net profit 9.78 bln rupees vs 9 bln analyst estimate
* New orders rise 27 pct as international orders double
* Maintains annual revenue growth forecast of 15 pct
(Adds executive's comment, revenue and orders forecasts,
MUMBAI/NEW DELHI, Oct 18 Larsen & Toubro Ltd
, India's biggest construction and engineering group,
is stepping up efforts to win more orders overseas to hit its
annual revenue growth target as a weaker domestic economy keeps
a lid on spending on big projects.
Mumbai-based L&T maintained its revenue growth forecast of
15 percent for the current fiscal year to March after reporting
on Friday a 7 percent annual rise in recurring net profit for
the three months to Sept. 30.
L&T, which lays roads, builds ships, makes power plant
equipment and develops real estate, has been looking to boost
overseas sales as the domestic economy, where it gets 80 percent
of its revenue, grows at its slowest pace in a decade.
Bottlenecks caused by difficulties buying land and high
funding costs are also deterring investment.
"At the moment, investment momentum in the Middle East is
pretty strong, so our attention has rightly been focused there,"
Chief Financial Officer R Shankar Raman told reporters after the
company released its earnings.
"The domestic market continues to be challenging," he said,
adding the company was looking at new markets in countries in
Southeast and central Asia and in pockets of Africa.
New orders between July and September grew at an annual rate
of 27 percent to 265 billion rupees ($4.3 billion) as
international order inflows more than doubled, accounting for 43
percent of total new business, L&T said in a statement.
Overseas contracts won in the quarter include a $1.4 billion
project to build bridges, tunnels and stations for a metro line
in Saudi Arabia.
L&T, widely seen as a bellwether for India's economy, said
recurring net profit rose to 9.78 billion rupees ($160 million)
for the three months to Sept. 30 compared with the 9 billion
rupees average estimate of nine analysts.
Gross revenue rose 10 percent to 146.48 billion rupees.
Mumbai brokerage Angel Broking said the results were above
its expectations and it remained positive on the company.
"We believe L&T is best placed to benefit from the gradual
recovery in the capex cycle, given its diverse exposure to
sectors, strong balance sheet and cash flow generation as
compared to its peers," Angel analyst Viral Shah said in emailed
Ahead of the earnings, shares in L&T, valued at $13 billion,
jumped 4.2 percent in a Mumbai market that gained 2.4 percent.
The shares have lost nearly a fifth of their value in 2013,
whereas the benchmark index has gained more than 7 percent.
($1 = 61.2850 Indian rupees)
(Reporting by Prashant Mehra and Devidutta Tripathy; Editing by
Christopher Cushing and David Cowell)