BENGALURU (Reuters) - GAIL (India), India's top natural gas distributor, posted a smaller-than-expected quarterly profit on Thursday, hurt by weakness in its natural gas marketing business.

Net profit rose more than three-fold to 21.77 billion rupees ($260.8 million) for the March quarter, but fell short of analysts' estimate of 28.29 billion rupees, according to LSEG data.

The state-run company's natural gas marketing segment, which accounts for the bulk of its overall revenue, declined nearly 10%.

Lower gas marketing margins due to a fall in spot LNG prices have been weighing on distribution companies, analysts said.

The company's total revenue slipped 0.9% to 32.33 billion rupees during the January-March period.

Shares of GAIL, which have risen about 20% so far this year, settled 2.6% lower on Thursday.

($1 = 83.4700 Indian rupees)

(Reporting by Yagnoseni Das in Bengaluru)