* Year EBITDA down 1.4 pct at 522 mln euros, below forecast
* Sees no change in slowing traffic trend in H1
* To sell car parks, Chilean business in H1
* 2009 debt refinanced
* Shares down 2.8 percent
(Adds details from conference call)
By Tracy Rucinski
MADRID, Feb 25 (Reuters) - Spanish toll-road operator Cintra CCIT.MC reported a fall in core earnings on Wednesday, after unexpectedly stripping out its car parks and Chilean road businesses from its top line ahead of their planned sale in the first half.
Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation fell 1.4 percent to 522.3 million euros ($669.2 million) in 2008, missing the average analyst forecast of 725.7 million.
EBITDA was also hit by negative exchange rate factors and a 11.1 million euro provision for the company’s 407 ETR motorway in Canada, as well as slower traffic on its main motorways.
“We do not expect a change from the current trend (in traffic growth) in the first half of this year,” Enrique Diaz said in a conference call with journalists.
Net loss widened to 56.3 million euros ($72.1 million) from 26.2 million, due to higher financing costs on new concessions, This was in line with analysts’ forecasts.
Cintra, which is controlled by builder Ferrovial (FER.MC), expects the sale of its car parks and motorway operations in Chile to take place in the first half of 2009, Diaz said.
“We’re satisfied with the number and quality of offers that we’ve received (...) considering current market conditions,” Diaz said.
Cintra does not rule out selling further assets as it shifts away from emerging markets — where Diaz said returns have been unconvincing — to focus on opportunities the company has identified in Ireland, Portugal and North America.
Cintra had 8.525 billion euros of net debt in 2008, but has successfully refinanced loans for its 407-ETR AND R-4 motorways, meaning it does not have to make any payments in 2009. Debt of 954 million euros will come due in 2010. The company — whose parent Ferrovial in December said it was studying a merger with it — said it had 39 projects in its pipeline for 2009 and 2010 worth a total of 37.4 billion euros.
It had also presented bids for the U.S. LBJ motorway project in Texas, and for the A-2 Strykow-Konotopa motorway in Poland.
The company’s assets are currently worth less than the 9.731 billion euro valuation given in June, management said, but gave no further details, citing confidentiality ahead of its potential merger with Ferrovial.
Cintra’s management did not provide any further guidance on the possible terms of a share swap to merge with Ferrovial, saying only that any deal would be “fair.”
At 1100 GMT Cintra’s shares were down 2.8 percent at 3.86 euros, giving up earlier gains. Spain’s Ibex-35 .IBEX leading-share index rose 1.7 percent. (Reporting by Tracy Rucinski and Andres Gonzalez; Editing by Greg Mahlich) ($1 = 0.7804 euros)