* 2012 net profit at $311.6 mln, misses forecast
* Says profit fall due to rise in costs from expansion
* Recommends 70 cents in 2012 dividends, up from 64 cents
MOSCOW, March 25 (Reuters) - Russian freight firm Globaltrans Investment reported a 2 percent drop in 2012 profit on Monday due to an increase in finance costs from acquisitions to expand its fleet in an industry opening up to competition.
CEO Sergey Maltsev said Globaltrans would continue to grow both by acquisition and organically and that the Russian freight industry was in the early stage of market consolidation.
A decade ago, Russian cargo owners relied on state-owned monopoly Russian Railways as the main fleet operator, but now 70 percent to 90 percent of the country’s freight fleet is privately owned, the company said.
The company has increased its fleet size by more than 50 percent in the year so far to more than 65,000 railcars.
Globaltrans’ 2012 net profit of $311.6 million compared with analysts’ forecasts in a Reuters poll for profit of $316.6 million, flat year-on-year due to an increase in debt.
Net debt rose to $896.9 million by year-end from $258.4 million as of end-2011 as the company borrowed to finance acquisitions of railcars and the Ferrotrans business - previously called Metalloinvesttrans - which it bought from iron ore company Metalloinvest in April 2012 in a $540 million deal.
Since the end of the year, it has closed a $225 million deal to buy rail freight operator MMK-Trans.
Globaltrans also said that Konstantin Nikolaev, Nikita Mishin and Andrey Filatov - shareholders who own 11.5 percent each of Globaltrans through the company Transportation Investments Holding Limited - now hold their stakes directly through three investment vehicles.
They intend to maintain their stakes at the present level, Globaltrans said.
Globaltrans recommended paying 70 cents per ordinary share in 2012 dividends, up from 64 cents in the previous year.
Globaltrans’ GDRs (global depository receipts) were up 5 percent in London by 0917 GMT.