Aramex sees tough 2011

UAE courier firm Aramex expects fourth-quarter profit growth to be in line with the rest of 2010 but sees a tough 2011 despite a good January, its chief executive said on Tuesday.

"The fourth quarter of 2010 had growth quite similar to what we have seen during the year," Fadi Ghandour told reporters on the sidelines of a conference when asked about profit growth.

"There won't be any surprises," he added, without being more specific.

He said 2011 would be a tough year as inflation was biting.

"January has been good. When January is good I'm normally optimistic, but this is going to be a tough year, energy prices have gone up, costs have gone up, inflation is going up so it's not going to be an easy year," he said.

In the first three quarters of 2010, Aramex's net profit rose by at least 10 per cent. But analysts surveyed by Reuters expect growth to have slowed down to 7.4 per cent in the fourth quarter.

Aramex was looking to make a several acquisitions in Africa by the end of March, among them one in Kenya.

"Africa and southeast Asia are our key expansion areas. Now we are going to do east Africa, we are looking (also) at West Africa," Ghandour said without identifying targets.

In November, the CEO said the company had about $100 million in cash to spend in the next two to three years.

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