Abertis profits down as Q1 traffic falls(4)

The Spanish toll road operator claims it’s still on track to grow both turnover and EBITDA as first quarter traffic numbers decline less than expected.

Spanish infrastructure developer Abertis Infraestructuras on Tuesday published its results for the first quarter of 2009, showing a fall in both traffic figures and EBITDA.

Traffic on Abertis’ toll road network for the four month period ending April 30 fell by 5.7 percent from the prior corresponding period, with EBITDA dropping 1.5 percent to €522 million.

Net profit was down 9.3 percent to €122 million, on the back of a turnover of €862 million (up 2.1 percent). Toll road revenues for the quarter fell by 1 percent to €631 million. Abertis attributed the decline in traffic to the global economic slump, adding that the pace of decline has eased in March and April compared to previous months.

Half of Abertis’ revenue was derived outside of its native Spain, with 36 percent coming from France. By sector, 27 percent of revenue was earned from activities other than toll roads, with telecoms (15 percent) and airports (7 percent) forming the next biggest revenue generators. Abertis’ telecoms business continued to grow at a rapid rate, with revenue up 26 percent to €126m over the prior corresponding period, while the airports division grew slightly (revenue up 1 percent to €61 million), despite the 10.8 percent drop in passenger traffic.

From a financial perspective, the company said 90 percent of its €14.1 billion of net debt is long-term, 78 percent of which is at fixed rates and 57 percent of which is non-recourse. Abertis’ cost of debt is 4.6 percent.

The toll road operator said it remains on target to increase both EBITDA and sales for the full year 2009.

Abertis’ share price closed on Tuesday at €13.72 on the back of the results, up 0.4 percent. Its long-term credit rating by Standard & Poor’s remains unchanged at A-.