* Net soars 23 pct despite near flat sales
* Mexico, Latam sales rise
* U.S. sales hurt by forex
(Adds details on Weston buy, comments, revenue, price)
MEXICO CITY, April 29 (Reuters) - Mexican bread maker Bimbo said on Thursday its first-quarter net profit rose 23 percent from a year ago, even though sales were hurt by foreign exchange losses from its U.S. operations.
Bimbo (BIMBOA.MX), one of the biggest bread makers in the world, earned 1.268 billion pesos ($102 million) in the January-March period, compared with 1.032 billion pesos a year earlier.
The lower cost of goods sold in the quarter also helped boost the top line.
Bimbo bought the U.S. bread-making unit of Canada’s George Weston Ltd (WN.TO) for $2.38 billion in December 2008, increasing its presence in the eastern United States. The new operations were consolidated until January of 2009.
Quarterly revenues were 28.3 billion pesos, a tad below the same quarter of 2009.
“The slight decrease primarily reflected the impact of translating U.S. dollar-denominated sales into Mexican pesos at a significantly lower foreign exchange rate when compared to the first quarter of last year,” the company said in a release.
Revenues in Mexico, its key selling market, rose 3.2 percent in the period, while The United States declined by 4.7 percent and Latin America post a 0.8 percent rise.
Bimbo shares closed 1.66 percent lower at 102.28 pesos on Thursday before disclosing quarterly results. ($1=12.387 at end-March) (Reporting by Cyntia Barrera Diaz; editing by Andre Grenon)