October 31, 2012 / 8:31 AM / 5 years ago

UPDATE 2-Abertis eyes 5 pct growth in 2012 net profit

* Latin America growth to offset weaker Spain, France

* 9-month EBITDA 1.9 bln euros, meets forecast

* Spanish traffic seen down 10 pct in 2012 - CEO (Adds profit estimate, detail)

By Tomás Cobos

MADRID, Oct 31 (Reuters) - Spanish toll road company Abertis Infraestructuras said on Wednesday it expected traffic growth in Latin America to help drive a 5 percent increase in full-year net profit this year.

Abertis reported a 5.6 percent rise in nine-month recurring net profit to 536 million euros ($696 million) and unchanged core profit as traffic declines in Spain and France chipped away at revenues.

“We anticipate stability at the revenues and EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation) level while net profit should continue to show mid single-digit increases on a recurrent basis,” Chief Financial Officer Jose Aljaro told a conference call.

Abertis, which also has telecommunications and airport assets, said on Wednesday that EBITDA was 1.9 billion euros ($2.5 billion) in the nine months to September, in line with the average forecast in a Reuters poll of analysts.

“We’ve seen traffic declines stabilise since summer but we expect Spanish traffic to fall about 10 percent in 2012, which is an about 30 percent decline since the start of the crisis,” Abertis Chief Executive Francisco Reynes said in a statement.

Abertis, which expects to close a deal to buy construction firm OHL’s Brazilian assets this month, said half of its core profit is now generated outside Spain.

Spain is battling its second recession in three years with a quarter of the country’s workforce unemployed. Consumer spending has plummeted over the last two years, with data on Monday showing an 11 percent fall in retail sales in September.

Net profit at the cash-rich motorway company grew 69 percent to 1.0 billion euros, boosted by capital gains from the sale of stakes in satellite operator Eutelsat and Portuguese peer Brisa earlier this year. ($1 = 0.7705 euros) (Additional reporting by Tracy Rucinski; Writing by Clare Kane; Editing by David Cowell)

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