UPDATE 1-Chile LATAM Airlines says posts Q2 net $49.725 mln
SANTIAGO, Aug 10 (Reuters) - Chile's newly merged regional carrier LATAM Airlines said on Friday it posted a profit of $49.725 million during the second quarter, boosted by accounting effects of the tie up between Chile's LAN and Brazil's TAM, as well as higher sales. LAN Airlines completed a takeover of Brazilian rival TAM in June, creating the world's second-largest airline by market value in a deal that executives expect to yield up to $700 million in annual cost savings within four years. LATAM compared its quarterly earnings to LAN's second quarter results of last year, saying they had more than tripled. However, removing the effect of the merger, including exchange rate and fuel hedging gains, it said that LAN's profit for the period fell 67.5 percent from a year earlier to $5.2 million. "The second quarter of 2012 presented a more challenging scenario due to the fall in cargo demand and a depreciation of local currencies, particularly the Brazilian real," LATAM said in an earnings statement. "However, passenger demand in practically all of Latin America, remains strong." LATAM said operating revenue totaled $1.548 billion during the second quarter. Earnings per basic share totaled $0.14. The June takeover came at a time of slowing economic growth and demand for air travel in Brazil, Latin America's biggest aviation market, and amid growing mergers and acquisitions activity among airlines in Brazil as carriers struggle with high labor costs, an unwieldy tax burden and overcrowded airports. LATAM said on Thursday its July passenger traffic rose 7.9 percent compared with the same period last year.
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