MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - America Movil, the cell phone giant owned by Mexican tycoon Carlos Slim, likely posted a slight 2 percent rise in second-quarter net profit as foreign exchange losses ate into a strong performance in Mexico and Brazil.
The company probably earned 24.6 billion pesos ($1.846 billion) net in the April-June period, up from 24.15 billion pesos a year earlier, according to analysts polled by Reuters.
“The countries that will contribute more to subscriber growth are Brazil and Mexico,” brokerage Monex said in a report.
America Movil (AMXL.MX), which likely added some 4.6 million new customers between April and June - slightly below its average quarterly gains - is seen growing its second quarter revenue by 22 percent from a year earlier.
The strong rise stems from the addition of Net Servicos to its Brazil operation earlier this year, which has helped ease some concerns about business in Latin America’s top economy.
Volatility on currency markets is expected to have taken the shine off the company’s performance, however.
Led in part by the peso’s decline, second-quarter foreign exchange losses are seen at close to 8 billion pesos, according to estimates from Itau BBA’s Gregorio Tomassi. This compares to losses of 2 billion pesos in the same period of 2011.
America Movil’s second-quarter earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) is forecast to have risen 8.8 percent to 67.4 billion pesos from a year earlier although margins are expected to have fallen.
“Price cuts in Mexico, increased customer service and acquisition costs in Brazil, inflationary and energy costs in Argentina and higher labor and concession linked costs in Peru are all forces acting against margins in 2012,” Tomassi added.
The company has operations from the United States to Argentina, but it is finding it harder to expand in Latin America, prompting Slim to explore new terrain.
He recently embarked on a European expansion by acquiring stakes in telecoms in the Netherlands and Austria.
On June 28, the company closed its tender offer for a controlling 27.7 percent stake in Dutch telecom KPN (KPN.AS).
Additionally, during the second quarter America Movil boosted its stake in Telekom Austria (TELA.VI) to 23 percent after buying out investor Ronny Pecik.
Tapping new sources of revenue in Europe should help offset headwinds in Latin America’s biggest market, Brazil.
Last week, Brazil’s telecoms regulator Anatel ordered Slim’s subsidiary there, Claro, and two other leading carriers to stop selling new mobile plans in some states in response to rising consumer complaints about dropped calls and spotty coverage.
America Movil, which had 246 million wireless subscribers in the Americas at the end of the first quarter, is expected to file its results after market close on Thursday.
Analysts will be looking for further hints on the Mexican company’s strategy for Europe when America Movil executives hold a conference call on Friday.
While the company has indicated it will stick to the Netherlands and Austria for now, some believe it may snap up more assets if the opportunity arises in Europe, where stock prices have been depressed by the region’s debt crisis.
Slim, 72, has been suggested as a possible contender for Teliasonera’s Spanish mobile operator Yoigo, in a 1 billion euro ($1.2 billion) plus deal that could attract competitors Vodafone and France Telecom as well.
($1 = 13.3396 pesos)
Reporting By Tomas Sarmiento, writing by Cyntia Barrera