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Tam Quarterly Profit Falls 22% on High Fuel Costs, Weak Demand

Tam SA, Brazil’s biggest airline by market share, posted a 22 percent drop in first-quarter net income amid higher fuel costs and weak domestic demand.

Tam’s profit fell to 100.9 million reais ($51.3 million) from 128.8 million reais a year earlier, according to a filing sent to the website of Brazil’s securities regulator CVM on May 11. Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, amortization and rent costs, or Ebitdar, fell 22 percent to 298.2 million reais from a year earlier. The Ebitdar margin fell 3.3 percentage points to 9.2 percent.

“We anticipate weak results,” Banco Santander Brasil SA analysts Alexandre Amson and Bruno Amorim wrote in an April 27 note to clients. “Weak domestic demand and an unfavorable macro scenario drove this poor performance,” wrote the analysts, who have a “buy” recommendation on Tam.

Demand measured by revenue per passenger per kilometer rose 1.7 percent in the quarter, while yield, or the profitability per passenger per kilometer, fell 0.8 percent and occupancy declined 2.3 percentage points to 68.1 percent, according to the statement. Fuel costs rose 19.8 percent, to 1.27 billion reais.

Tam cut its 2012 guidance for demand increase to “ensure profitability,” according to the statement. The airline now expects seat availability to remain stable or fall as much as 2 percent this year and domestic demand to grow between 7 percent and 9 percent.

Share Swap

Tam’s first-quarter report comes a day after Lan Airlines SA began a share-swap offer that will run through June 11 in Brazil and the U.S. The transaction will result in a combined company with market value of about $13 billion, making it the world’s biggest airline by market value, overtaking Air China Ltd. and Singapore Airlines Ltd. After completion of the share swap, if the agreement requirements are met, Tam will be delisted.

Tam shares rose 29 percent to 46.05 reais this year. Competitor Gol Linhas Aereas Inteligentes SA fell 17 percent in the same period, while Brazil’s benchmark Bovespa index rose 4.7 percent.

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