UPDATE 3-America Movil beats 4th-quarter view as taxes drop
(Adds analyst comments, background on European investments, regulation))
By Elinor Comlay
MEXICO CITY Feb 11 (Reuters) - America Movil, Latin America's biggest phone company controlled by billionaire businessman Carlos Slim, on Tuesday reported a better-than-expected quarterly profit, helped by a drop in taxes and a slight pick-up in revenue.
The company, facing increased regulation and competition in most of Latin America, has been looking to bolster its financial position by investing outside of the region and also by moving customers from cheap pre-paid contracts to more lucrative mobile data plans.
Transferring customers is a slow process, however, and America Movil said revenue from services increased just 0.8 percent from the year-ago period.
Most of the company's 3 percent revenue gain came from equipment sales and that helped drive a slight pickup in core profit, or earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, to 63.5 billion pesos, also beating analysts' expectations.
"This report was as expected," said Julio Zetina, analyst at Vector Casa de Bolsa in Mexico City. "It's nothing spectacular ... but there are not any surprises, negative or positive."
Before taxes, the company reported hefty charges related to foreign currency volatility in the quarter, but a sharply lower tax bill helped America Movil to a fourth-quarter profit of 17.2 billion pesos ($1.31 billion), up from 14.9 billion pesos a year earlier.
It was not immediately clear why the company's tax bill was more than 70 percent lower than the year-ago period. Company executives will hold a conference call for analysts at 1500 GMT on Wednesday. Continuación...