UPDATE 3-America Movil cuts exchange rate losses, but Mexico margin squeezed
(Adds share buyback program)
By Christine Murray
MEXICO CITY Feb 9 (Reuters) - Carlos Slim's America Movil on Tuesday reported a five-fold increase in quarterly profit, helped by a smaller loss from currency fluctuations, but tougher regulations in Mexico continued to squeeze margins at home.
Two of the most important currencies to the company's business, Mexico's peso and Brazil's real, fell only slightly against the dollar in the fourth quarter, unlike in the third when exchange rate woes pushed America Movil to its first loss in 14 years.
The exchange rate loss was 3.1 billion pesos in October-December, compared with a 22.8 billion peso loss in the prior year period, helping net profit beat analysts' expectations.
However, operating profit at Latin America's largest wireless and pay TV provider fell. Grappling with tough regulation at home and deepening recession in Brazil, America Movil's share price slipped more than 15 percent in the last year.
For the full year, the company's net profit fell 24 percent.
In Mexico, its biggest market, America Movil is feeling the effects of a sweeping regulatory reform that has pushed down telecoms prices and squeezed the company's profit margin.
In the fourth quarter Mexico earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization margin hit 36.7 percent, down from 42.6 percent a year earlier. Continuación...