October 24, 2012 / 12:50 PM / 5 years ago

UPDATE 5-Mexico's Coca Cola Femsa profit soars, ponders more M&A

* Quarterly net profit up 53 pct, tops expectations

* Recent acquisitions of Mexican rivals drive sales growth

* Decision on Philippines purchase seen by year-end

* Continues to tread Latin America for M&A opportunities

MEXICO CITY, Oct 24 (Reuters) - Mexico’s Coca-Cola Femsa , Latin America’s biggest coke bottler, said third-quarter profit jumped 53 percent on recent acquisitions and it hoped to decide on another purchase in the Philippines by year-end.

The company, a joint venture of Coca-Cola Co and Mexican retailer and beverage company Femsa, said earnings increased to 3.54 billion pesos ($276 million) from 2.31 billion pesos a year earlier.

The results beat market expectations. Analysts polled by Reuters were looking for earnings of 3.15 billion pesos.

Revenue jumped 20 percent to 36.19 billion pesos, helped by the integration of Mexican rivals Grupo Tampico, Grupo CIMSA and Grupo Fomento Queretano, the company said. About 1,000 people have been laid off as a result of these transactions so far this year and more headcount reduction could take place in the current quarter, the company said.

The company, which is in talks to buy a controlling stake in Coca-Cola Co operations in the Philippines, said it expected a decision on the deal by year-end.

“We think it has a very good potential ... we are finalizing negotiations with Coca-Cola Co. As they say in baseball, it’s not over till it’s over,” the company said during a conference call with analysts Wednesday morning.

This deal could mean the beginning of more activity in Asia for the Mexican company although it did not give details about a possible next target.

Coca-Cola FEMSA added during the call that while there were limited purchase chances left in Latin America, it would continue to tread the region for more opportunities.

The company operates in Mexico, Central America, Colombia, Venezuela, Brazil and Argentina.

Analysts have said acquisitions combined with more-stable prices of raw materials have greatly helped the company’s results in recent quarters.

“After facing a very tough commodity and volatile currency environment over the past several quarters, we look forward to a strong close of the year,” said Carlos Salazar, chief executive officer.

Coca-Cola Femsa shares, up 29 percent so far this year, rose 0.34 percent to 172.26 pesos on Wednesday.

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