Chile Falabella Q4 net up 2.9 pct, but tumbles 12.3 pct in 2012

SANTIAGO, March 6 Wed Mar 6, 2013 7:04am EST

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SANTIAGO, March 6 (Reuters) - Chilean retailer Falabella said net profit rose 2.9 percent in the fourth quarter, boosted by higher sales and an increase in the credit business, but tumbled 12.3 percent in 2012.

In the October-to-December quarter, net profit increased to 146.254 billion pesos ($305 million), it said in a statement to a regulator late Tuesday.

Annual net profit fell to 371.060 billion pesos ($773 million), pressured by the "wrongful appropriation" of funds that affected one of its units and a hike in Chile's corporate tax rate, the retailer added.

Falabella plans to invest $3.923 billion from 2013 to 2017 to double the number of stores and shopping malls it operates in Argentina, Chile, Colombia and Peru.

The retailer is looking at options to grow more aggressively in the region, including the possibility of mergers and acquisitions, Vice President Carlo Solari told Reuters in January.

Chilean retailers, such as Falabella and Cencosud, have been flexing their muscles across Latin America as domestic demand booms in much of the region.

Shares in Falabella closed down 1 percent on Tuesday, before results were announced, underperforming a 0.28 percent fall on Santiago's blue-chip IPSA stock index.

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