By Laura Madden, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Non-financial businesses in Brazil recorded a combined financial loss of R$15.3 billion last year. That’s R$11 billion more than the previous year’s R$4 billion. In the second half of last year, the appreciation of the dollar against the real — from R$1.562 to R$1.869 (up 19.65 percent) — took companies by surprise.
This year, the government has acted to prevent the dollar from falling. Last week, the Ministry of Finance extended a tax from two years to three on foreign loans taken by Brazilian companies abroad, to avoid speculative capital in the country.
The 2011 results were influenced by two giants: Petrobras and Vale. The mining company alone recorded a financial loss of R$6.6 billion last year, greater than its 2010 losses of R$ 2.76 billion. Petrobras’ positive financial result of R$ 122 million in 2011 was less than its R$ 2.562 billion gain in 2010.
Even excluding the survey’s two biggest players, however, losses doubled from R$3.8 billion to R$8.8 billion in the last two years. Other companies with losses are Fibria at R$1.8 billion, TAM clocking R$1.2 billion and Cosan at R$451 million.
Not all companies, however, with financial results are red. TAM said that despite the exchange rate, the company is in “a strong cash position today at R$2.6 billion.”
Despite the losses, economist Alexandre Schwartsman, former director of the Central Bank (BC), says that companies have learned a lesson from the international financial crisis of 2008, when losses on foreign exchange transactions almost broke exporters such as Sadia, Perdigao, Aracruz and Votorantim.
“In 2008 we saw big companies with serious problems because of the dollar,” Schwartsman explains. “I think companies have learned from what happened that year. I do not think we’ll see it repeated.”
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