(Updates with share performance)
SAO PAULO, April 24 (Reuters) - Brazil’s Fibria Celulose SA , the world’s largest producer of eucalyptus pulp, posted a slightly smaller first-quarter profit on Thursday, as a move to cut its debt offset the advantages of a weaker currency.
Net income slipped to 19 million reais ($8.5 million) from 24 million reais a year earlier. Estimates in a Reuters poll had varied widely, from a net loss of 43 million reais to a profit of 367 million reais.
Fibria’s focus on reducing debts at the expense of short-term results underscores its preparations for higher borrowing costs and possible consolidation in Brazil’s pulp sector.
Fibria shares rose 0.4 percent in early trading to 22.73 reais.
The depreciation of the Brazilian real over the past year has also improved the profitability of Fibria’s export-focused business.
Despite flat sales volumes, earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, a gauge of operating profit known as EBITDA, rose 21 percent to 665 million reais, below an average estimate of 688 million reais in the Reuters survey.
Net financial expenses jumped 58 percent to 170 million reais in the quarter, as the company finished buying back bonds due in 2020.
$1 = 2.24 reais Reporting by Brad Haynes; Editing by Paul Simao