UPDATE 1-Batista's MMX posts first-quarter loss; shares fall

miércoles 25 de junio de 2014 10:23 GYT

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RIO DE JANEIRO, June 25 (Reuters) - MMX, which is controlled by local tycoon Eike Batista, posted a hefty first-quarter loss as the Brazilian miner battles to gain profitability in the midst of falling iron ore prices and waning investor confidence.

The company's net loss for the quarter widened by 25 percent to 69.2 million reais ($31 million) from a year earlier.

Shares of MMX fell 2.9 percent in morning trading on Wednesday, on track for their biggest one-day drop in nearly a month and on course for closing at a three-month low.

MMX Mineração e Metálicos SA, as the company is formally known, is in the process of restructuring to reduce its debt and focus on developing its flagship mines in the state of Minas Gerais. It has cut its staff by half and sold off a majority stake in its Sudeste Port, an iron ore export terminal near Rio de Janeiro.

But MMX, whose share price has fallen more than 90 percent since January 2013, faces a race against time with iron ore prices beginning to slide due to increasing supplies from Australian majors BHP, Rio Tinto and Fortescue as well as slowing growth in demand from China.

MMX is one of the last companies still controlled by former billionaire Batista after the sale of most of his EBX group, which collapsed under the weight of debt and unfulfilled plans.

Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization were also negative, racking up a loss of 501.3 million reais, compared with a 3.1 million reais positive result a year earlier. ($1 = 2.22 Brazilian reais) (Reporting by Roberta Villas Boas and Stephen Eisenhammer; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)