UPDATE 1-Abertis examines possible sale of airports division

Tue Feb 19, 2013 6:57am EST

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* Plans expansion in Mexico and U.S.

* Posts flat core 2012 profit of 2.46 bln euros

* Targets 2013 core profit of 3.1 bln euros

* Shares up 0.2 percent (Adds potential airports sale, earnings targets)

MADRID, Feb 19 (Reuters) - Spanish infrastructure company Abertis is studying the possible sale of its airports division as part of its diversification strategy, Chief Executive Francisco Reynes said on Tuesday.

Abertis, which also controls toll road and telecoms assets, has hired Citigroup and AZ Capital to study options for the business, valued by analysts at about 900 million euros ($1.2 billion).

"We're open to any option," Reynes told Reuters in a telephone interview, while adding that the company would continue to study growth opportunities in Mexico and the United States without ruling out further investments in Spain.

The company's airport assets in Bolivia were nationalised by President Evo Morales on Monday, though Abertis said that the widely expected move had no impact on its results.

Abertis posted a 0.2 percent rise in full-year earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) to 2.46 billion euros ($3.28 billion) on Tuesday, with motorway traffic growth in Latin America offsetting declines in Spain and France.

The company has suffered from its exposure to Spain, where a deep recession and high unemployment have weighed on traffic and propelled its drive for international expansion.

Last year it bought highway concessions in Chile and Brazil from Spain's OHL, with 60 percent of EBITDA now generated outside Spain.

The company said it is targeting EBITDA of 3.1 billion euros in 2013 and sales of 5.1 billion euros, up from sales of 4 billion euros in 2012.

Net profit this year is expected to be about 600 million euros, against 613 million euros in 2012, with net debt targeted at 14.3 billion euros, slightly more than 2012's 14.1 billion.

Abertis, shares of which were up 0.2 percent at 12.73 euros by 1120 GMT, said it may increase its dividend in the future after a full-year 2012 payout of 0.66 euros per share. ($1 = 0.7490 euros) (Reporting By Tracy Rucinski; Editing by Tomás Cobo and David Goodman)

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