MADRID Spanish infrastructure firm Ferrovial (FER.MC) on Thursday reported a 6 percent drop in first quarter core earnings as a drawn-out recession at home and one-off items booked the previous year took their toll on earnings.
The owner of Europe's largest airport, London's Heathrow, reported net profit of 100 million euros for the quarter, not directly comparable with the year-ago period due to asset sales, while earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation were 181 million euros ($235 million).
Ferrovial's construction business showed continued weakness in Spain, which is yet to recover from a housing slump, partly offset by growth in the group's building activity abroad.
A decrease in traffic flow whittled away at earnings from its toll motorways division, as well as the booking of extraordinary items in the year-ago period.
At its services division revenues shrank at home and abroad, dented by the economic environment.
Ferrovial is gradually boosting business abroad, particularly in services, reducing the weight within the group of less profitable activities in Spain.
The company has halved its debt -- in sharp contrast to its local building competitors -- to 12.9 billion euros in 2012 from 24 billion euros in 2008, via asset sales.
The shares have risen 13 percent in the year to date as investors responded favourably to the reduction in debt.
(Reporting By Elizabeth O'Leary, Editing by Sonya Dowsett and Elaine Hardcastle)