UPDATE 2-Mexico's Femsa 4th-qtr profit halves on financial costs
By Christine Murray
MEXICO CITY Feb 27 (Reuters) - Mexico's Femsa said on Thursday fourth-quarter profit halved from strong year-ago levels due to higher financial costs at its bottling joint venture co-owned by Coca-Cola Co.
The bottler and convenience store retailer said profit fell 48 percent to 4.99 billion pesos ($381 million) in the three months to end-December, from 9.66 billion pesos a year earlier.
This was largely due to a large one-off gain it made from its stake in Dutch brewer Heineken a year earlier, but also the cost of financing a string of acquisitions, mostly in Brazil, at its Coca-Cola Femsa joint venture.
Femsa's financial expenditures almost tripled from 853 million pesos to 2.46 billion pesos.
Shares at Coke Femsa, which is co-owned with U.S. beverage group Coca-Cola Co, are down more than 40 percent from an all-time high in April after weak consumer spending in Brazil coincided with a new sugary drinks levy in Mexico designed to curb rising obesity.
At the group level, revenue rose 11 percent to 70.5 billion pesos, driven by strong sales at convenience store division Femsa Comercio.
Despite slumping consumer confidence and retail sales in No.1 market Mexico, the division which runs convenience stores under its Oxxo brand opened 511 new stores in the quarter and total sales increased 13.5 percent from the year-earlier quarter. Continuación...