Chile’s Vapores Sinks to 6-Year Low on Cash Concerns

By Nathan Gill
March 12 (Bloomberg) — Cia. Sudamericana de Vapores SA, Latin America’s largest container ship company, plunged as much as 13.9 percent and closed at a six-year low on speculation it will struggle to pay maturing debt.
    
The share tumble, which followed an 8.7 percent slide yesterday, prompted the Santiago Stock Exchange to request financial information from the company. Vapores Chief Executive Juan Antonio Alvarez replied in a statement that the company has “no relevant news” to report beyond what was made available in its last quarterly results, according to a posting on the exchange’s Web site.
    
“There’s a rumor that they need cash,” Cristina Acle, director of equity research at CorpResearch SA, said today by phone from Santiago. “The problem with Vapores is that they have very opaque finances. You can’t see all of Vapores debt in their financial sheets. This adds risk to the company.”
    
Valparaiso, Chile-based Vapores fell 2.3 percent to 317.9 pesos at 5 p.m. New York time in Santiago trading. It’s dropped 20 percent in the past six days.
    
The company in January reported a $38.6 million loss for 2008 and forecast “important” losses and service cutbacks this year amid a global slump in shipping.
    
CorpResearch has a target price of 450 pesos in the next 12 to 18 months and has a “buy” recommendation for the stock, Acle said. “Even if the company has problems, this is definitely an excessively low price,” she said.

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