One-time cost socks Azteca profits

Sales in the December quarter slid 3%

TV Azteca, Mexico’s No. 2 web, on Tuesday said fourth quarter net profit plunged 82% to $8 million due to a $44 million hit from a one-time restatement of assets related to its Internet portal

Sales in the December quarter slid 3% year on year to $227 million, below analyst estimates.

Azteca said net profit would have been up 12% for the quarter excluding the one-time cost.

Web, owned by mobile phone and home appliance magnate Ricardo Salinas Pliego, said annual sales for 2005 were down 1% at $797 million compared to the previous year while net profit slipped 24% to $114 million.

Web also noted annual sales comparison was down due to extra coin in 2004 from the Summer Olympics.

Net said its U.S. web Azteca America’s coverage of the U.S. Hispanic market could expand around 7% to 87% this year if investments by Alta Communications announced in January are approved by the FCC.

Sales at Azteca America were $10 million during the fourth quarter, down from $14 million the year before when the net enjoyed income from nonrecurring sporting events.

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