UPDATE 3-Mexico's Femsa profit jumps, fueled by gains from Heineken stake
(Adds plan to buy 227 gas station operations and capital expenditures view)
MEXICO CITY Feb 26 (Reuters) - Mexican bottling and retail company Femsa on Thursday reported a 45 percent rise in its fourth-quarter profit, mostly due to higher gains from its stake in brewer Heineken.
The company, which co-owns Coke bottler Coca-Cola Femsa and operates the Oxxo chain of convenience stores, reported a profit of 7.254 billion pesos ($492 million), compared to 4.988 billion pesos in the year-earlier period.
Revenue was flat at 70.156 billion pesos, partly reflecting a negative foreign exchange impact from Coca-Cola Femsa's business in Venezuela.
Femsa holds a 20 percent stake in one of the world's biggest brewers, Heineken. Its profit from stakes in associated companies and joint ventures jumped 83 percent.
Chief Executive Carlos Salazar said that he was "cautiously optimistic" for 2015, particularly in its core Mexico market, despite headwinds from volatile exchange rates.
Femsa said it had decided to pursue an aggressive growth strategy in retail gasoline by buying gas station franchises of Mexican state oil company Pemex, which it said a sweeping energy reform finalized last year now allows it to do.
The reform gradually liberalizes the retail gasoline sector in Mexico, allowing the creation of gas stations without Pemex branding and the sale of gasoline not purchased from the country's long-time monopoly supplier.
Femsa said it had agreed to acquire franchises for 227 gas stations where it already has Oxxo stores. Continuación...