MEXICO CITY America Movil, Latin America's top mobile phone operator, plans to concentrate on boosting profit margins this year, switching its focus away from a wave of acquisitions in the region, its chief financial officer said on Thursday.
Carlos Garcia-Moreno said America Movil (AMX.N)(AMXL.MX) would see its Brazilian unit's EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization) margin rise to the "high teens or even as high as 20 percent" this year, up from 12.7 percent last year.
Controlled by Mexican tycoon Carlos Slim, the world's third-richest man, America Movil is also interested in entering the mobile phone market in Panama.
"It is a country that interests us," Garcia-Moreno said, speaking at the Reuters Latin American Investment Summit in Mexico City, adding that America Movil could apply or bid for a license there.
In 2007, America Movil's total sales will rise 20 percent, Garcia-Moreno forecast, growth that includes a recently concluded acquisition in the Dominican Republic and an acquisition in Puerto Rico that will be consolidated shortly.
The company plans a 10 billion-peso extension to its share buyback scheme that will take its total fund to 14 billion pesos for 2007, Garcia-Moreno said.
Also, by the end of this year, America Movil expects to launch 3G services in several major Latin American cities, the chief financial officer said.
But America Movil had no near-term plans for moving into Canada, one market in the Americas where it has no presence, Garcia-Moreno said.