Telefonica Q4 profit up on Latin American markets

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By CIARAN GILES, Associated Press

MADRID (AP) — Spanish telephone company Telefonica said Friday its net profit doubled in the last quarter due to strong growth in Latin America.

The company said net profit was euro2.7 billion ($3.6 billion) in the fourth quarter, up from euro1.3 billion for the same period last year.

Net profit was euro5.4 billion ($7.2 billion) for January to December, down 47 percent from the previous year, when it enjoyed a one-off gain, Telefonica said in a statement.

The company said its net profits were also dampened by euro1.9 billion ($2.5 billion) in layoff costs in Spain.

Overall operating income before depreciation and amortization, or OIBDA, fell to euro20.2 billion ($26.9 billion) in 2011 from euro25.8 billion the previous year. For the quarter it rose 10.2 percent to euro5.96 billion ($7.93 billion).

Telefonica said sales for the quarter were down 1.8 percent to euro16.2 billion ($21.5 billion). They rose 3.5 percent for the year to euro62.8 billion ($83.5 billion).

Revenue in Latin America was up 2.5 percent to euro7.7 billion ($10.2 billion) in the quarter and increased 13.5 percent to euro29.2 billion ($38.8 billion) for the whole year. OIBDA for the region was up 7.9 percent at euro3.2 billion ($4.3 billion).

Telefonica said revenue from the region now accounts for 47 percent of the total. Of the company's 306 million clients, 201 million were now in Latin America, it said.

In contrast, revenue in Spain, which accounts for a quarter of the total, fell by 9.5 percent to euro4.2 billion ($5.6 billion).

Spain, with nearly 23 percent unemployment, looks set to fall back into its second recession in three years.

OIBDA for the country was down 5.1 percent at euro1.7 billion ($2.3 billion), the company said. It does not give a regional breakdown of profits.

Telefonica's shares were up 0.2 percent at euro12.9 ($17.2) in trading Friday in Madrid.

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