UPDATE 1-LATAM Airlines posts loss as currency depreciation weighs

Mon Mar 17, 2014 8:21pm EDT

SANTIAGO, March 17 (Reuters) - LATAM Airlines posted a net loss of $46.1 million for the fourth quarter due to a drop in revenue and a foreign exchange loss stemming from the Brazilian real's depreciation, the company said on Monday.

The loss was well short of forecasts for a $2.4 million profit in a Reuters poll.

The company, formed in mid-2012 when Chile's flagship LAN took over Brazil's TAM, posted a net loss of $69.8 million in the fourth quarter of 2012.

"Net income in the quarter was affected by a foreign exchange loss of $142.6 million mainly resulting from the 6.5 percent depreciation of the Brazilian real between September 2013 and December 2013," LATAM Airlines said.

"The company continues working to largely mitigate the exposure to the Brazilian real in TAM's balance sheet by June 2014," it added.

Total revenues in the fourth quarter fell 2.1 percent to $3.4 billion due to sliding passenger and cargo revenue and the weaker Brazilian currency.

For full-year 2013, the regional carrier's net loss amounted to $281.1 million, versus a loss of $523.1 million the prior year.

Looking forward, LATAM Airlines said it has $3.06 billion in fleet investment commitments between 2014 and 2015.

It said it expected operating margin to be about 6 to 8 percent for full-year 2014, excluding non-recurring costs related to fleet restructuring.

That compares to an operating margin of 4.9 percent in 2013 and 0.7 percent in 2012.

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