UPDATE 2-Mexico's Alsea posts surprise quarterly profit, defying expectations

(Adds disputed tax charge still under review)

MEXICO CITY, July 28 (Reuters) - Mexican restaurant operator Alsea on Wednesday reported a net profit in the second quarter, beating the expectations of analysts who estimated the company would be in the red while struggling to compensate for pandemic shutdowns.

The company, which operates franchises of Starbucks, Domino’s Pizza and Burger King in various countries worldwide, posted net profit of 139 million pesos ($6.97 million), marking a rebound from a 2.6 billion peso loss a year before.

Chief Executive Alberto Torrado attributed the boost to fewer pandemic lockdowns and sales that grew during the quarter, including a 20% jump in delivery orders.

Alsea had last notched a net profit in the fourth quarter of 2020 but slipped into a loss in the first few months of this year.

Alsea’s revenue in the April-to-June period more than doubled from a year ago to reach 12.5 billion pesos.

Alsea also reported that its dispute with tax authorities over a charge of 3.88 billion pesos for the company’s 2014 purchase of eatery Vips from Walmart de Mexico has yet to be resolved.

Walmart de Mexico last year paid more than 8 billion pesos in back taxes over the same transaction after facing pressure from tax authorities. ($1 = 19.9470 pesos at end-June) (Reporting by Daina Beth Solomon and Noe Torres in Mexico City Editing by Drazen Jorgic and Matthew Lewis)