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M&M profit rises 26 percent, lags street estimates

MUMBAI (Reuters) - Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd(MAHM.NS), India's biggest utility vehicle manufacturer, posted a 26 percent rise in profit for the three months to end-December but lagged street estimates, as a slide in operating margin offset strong SUV sales growth.

Shares in the company fell as much as 1.4 percent after the results. They were down 0.4 percent before the results were released.

Mahindra, also the world's largest tractor company by sales volume, said profit for the fiscal third quarter was 8.36 billion rupees, against 6.62 billion rupees a year earlier. Net sales increased 29 percent to 106.43 billion rupees.

Analysts, on average, expected profit of 8.62 billion rupees, according to data from Thomson Reuters Starmine.

Mahindra's passenger vehicle sales rose an annual 36 percent during the quarter, as its domestic tractor sales inched up 3.9 percent.

(Reporting by Henry Foy; Editing by Anand Basu)