10 de febrero de 2016 / 12:30 / hace un año

UPDATE 1-Spain's Abertis hunts for new projects after cash windfall

3 MIN. DE LECTURA

* Considering six projects in Europe, Americas

* Full-year net profit triples to 1.9 bln euros on one-off gains

* Forecasts 2016 EBITDA of 3.1 bln euros vs 2.7 bln euros in 2015 (Adds detail, CFO and analyst comment)

By Angus Berwick

MADRID, Feb 10 (Reuters) - Spanish toll road operator Abertis is considering several new projects in Europe and the Americas as it looks to use the cash windfall from last year's listing of its Cellnex business to fund worldwide expansion.

Abertis, which has said it would increase its investment "firepower" as it hunts for more motorway takeovers, forecasts rising profit this year, with increased traffic in Spain offsetting a decline in Brazil, one of its biggest markets.

The company is considering six projects in Europe and the Americas and could invest 2 billion euros ($2.3 billion) over two years to extend concessions in Latin America, it said on Wednesday.

Chief Financial Officer Jose Aljaro told a news conference that it has investment capacity of 4 billion euros but would conserve its cash reserves to keep its investment grade.

The Barcelona-based company's 2015 full-year net profit almost tripled to 1.9 billion euros from a year earlier, boosted by the 2.7 billion euros obtained from July's Cellnex listing.

Shares in Abertis were up 1.4 percent by 1225 GMT, against a 3.3 percent rise for Spain's blue-chip Ibex 35 index. The group's shares have slipped by about 10 percent over the past three months, compared with a more than 20 percent decline for the Ibex.

Analysts said that the company's results were close to consensus forecasts and that Latin America is the best target for investment.

"Of the 4 billion euros of firepower the company has, we think Latin American opportunities offer a route for around 2.6 billion euros of this," RBC Capital Markets analyst Andrew Jones said in a note, rating the company's shares as "outperform".

Finance chief Aljaro said he expects revenues to rise to 4.7 billion euros in 2016 and core profit to hit 3.1 billion euros.

Its 2015 core profit was down 7.5 percent as earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) dropped to 2.7 billion euros on weaker traffic in Brazil and domestic accounting changes. The result just missed the consensus forecast in a Reuters poll of analysts.

The company said that in like-for-like terms EBITDA would have risen 5 percent in 2015 from a year earlier. ($1 = 0.8865 euros) (Additional reporting by Robert Hetz; Editing by Paul Day and David Goodman)

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