By Anthony Harrup
This article is being republished as part of our daily reproduction of WSJ.com articles that also appeared in the U.S. print edition of The Wall Street Journal (February 14, 2018).
MEXICO CITY -- Mexican telecommunications heavyweight América Móvil SAB registered a second straight net loss in the fourth quarter on an increase in financial costs and foreign exchange-related declines in revenue.
Latin America's largest wireless operator, controlled by billionaire Carlos Slim, reported a net loss of 11.3 billion Mexican pesos ($606 million) in the October-December period, or $0.18 per American depositary receipt, compared with a net loss of 6.0 billion pesos or $0.09 per ADR in the fourth quarter of 2016.
It was a second straight quarter in the red for the company, which reported a net loss of 9.5 billion pesos in the third quarter as it paid the Colombian government around $1 billion in a dispute over the return of wireless assets related to the company's 1994 concession to operate in the South American country.
The weaker Mexican peso against the U.S. dollar and the euro led to financial costs of 37.3 billion pesos in the fourth quarter, up from 28.2 billion pesos a year before.
Fourth-quarter revenue fell 2% to 263.9 billion pesos, as the Mexican peso gained against a number of regional currencies. In local currency terms, service revenues rose 1.4% and would have been up 1.9% but for a 16.1% decline in Puerto Rico, which continued to suffer lack of electricity following the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria in September.
Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, or Ebitda, a measure of cash flow, rose 6.8% to 70.2 billion pesos, adjusted to exclude the Colombian award.
The median estimate of analysts polled by The Wall Street Journal had predicted net profit of 2.6 billion pesos on revenue of 264.5 billion pesos, and Ebitda of 69.0 billion pesos. Several analysts had forecast a net loss.
América Móvil ended the year with 279 million wireless subscribers across Latin America, the U.S., Austria and East Central Europe, 0.6% fewer than a year earlier. Subscriptions to fixed-line services slipped 0.1% to 82.8 million.
In Mexico, where América Móvil has faced strong regulatory pressure as the dominant operator, local wireless unit Telcel had 73.9 million wireless clients, 1.2% more than a year before after adding 541,000 in the quarter.
Competitor AT&T Inc. added 3.1 million subscribers in Mexico last year, including 1.3 million in the fourth quarter, bringing its total to 15.1 million.
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