MEXICO CITY, Oct 28 (Reuters) - Mexico's Grupo Carso reported weaker-than-expected third-quarter earnings on Monday, as weak demand for its industrial products took a bite out of sales and profits.
Carso, one of Mexico's leading conglomerates and part of the business empire of Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim, said in a news release its earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) fell 12.5 percent from the third quarter of 2001 to 2.207 billion pesos. A Reuters poll of seven analysts yielded an average forecast for a 9 percent drop in EBITDA.
Sales at Carso, a retail and industrial conglomerate, fell 5.3 percent to 12.603 billion pesos. The forecast called for a drop of 4 percent.
Key industrial unit Condumex, which makes cables ranging from copper to fiber optic for the construction, automotive and telecommunications industries, has been buffeted by low prices and slow demand in Mexico and abroad during the past year amid a global industrial slowdown.
"Revenues at Condumex during the third quarter ... continued to reflect the weakness in the telecommunications division and were not offset by results from other divisions," Carso said in a news release.
The unit, representing a third of Carso's EBITDA, was especially hurt by reductions in capital expenditures at telecommunications firm Telefonos de Mexico (Telmex) , which is also controlled by Slim but does not fall under the Carso conglomerate umbrella.
Net income for the quarter was down 66 percent from the year-ago period, to 240 million pesos. Analysts had forecast net profit of 552 million pesos for the quarter, based on exchange rate losses due to the peso's weakening.