Portugal's leading highway operator Brisa (BRI.LS) posted a fourth-quarter net profit of 41.8 million euros ($52.98 million) on Friday, 64 percent below its year-ago net profit, but exceeding market expectations.

Nine analysts in a Reuters survey had expected, on average, net profit to fall to 28 million euros, citing weak traffic volumes and rising costs.

Brisa, which operates over half of Portugal's paid highways, also reported revenues of 179.8 million euros in the quarter, 13 percent higher than a year ago and above analysts' forecast of 160 million euros.

Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) rose 22 percent to 127.8 million euros.

For the whole of 2008, Brisa's net profit fell 41.5 percent to 151.8 million euros. (Reporting by Sergio Goncalves and Andrei Khalip)