Mexico's Penoles posted on Tuesday a net loss of 1.417 billion pesos ($103 million) for the fourth quarter, hurt by higher financing costs and taxes, sending its shares lower.

The loss compared to a net profit of 918.9 million pesos in the year-ago period.

Penoles shares fell 0.47 percent on Tuesday to 156.81 pesos, even as the broader market closed higher.

A partial strike at its MetMex metals processing complex also weighed on its outlook, one analyst said.

We continue to foresee a difficult climate for Penoles, BBVA Bancomer analyst Rodrigo Ortega said in a report. The current situation at MetMex may affect sales in the months ahead, Ortega added, keeping his underperform recommendation on the stock.

Penoles' earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) fell to 1.951 billion pesos in the fourth quarter from 2.055 billion pesos a year ago. Sales were 11.604 billion pesos versus 11.431 billion pesos a year ago.

The net loss was due to higher financing costs, in part because of exchange rate losses, Penoles said in a statement.

The Mexican peso has lost about a third of its value since early August due to the global financial crisis, and some economists expect it to fall further.

Penoles was also hit by high taxes after it booked a big profit from floating its precious metals unit Fresnillo (FRES.L: Quote) on the London Stock Exchange last year.

Penoles now produces base metals like zinc and lead, and controls the company's massive refining plant in northern Mexico, while Fresnillo mines gold and silver.

Base metals prices fell sharply because of a decline in demand, but gold, often considered a safe haven during economic downturns, on average saw better prices in 2008 compared to the previous year, Penoles said.

A drop in industrial demand, principally in the automotive and construction sectors meant that on average base metals prices were lower in 2008 than in 2007, the company said.

London-listed Fresnillo posted a worse-than-expected 10.8 percent fall in 2008 attributable profit on Monday and said 2009 output would be mostly flat.

The MetMex complex, the largest in Latin America, has been hit by a partial strike at its gold and silver refinery since Feb. 8, with workers demanding higher salaries.

The company is not producing precious metals but says it has enough material warehoused to meet client orders for now. It is sending precious metals in bulk -- processed in the operating section of the plant where workers accepted a wage deal -- for refining overseas. ($1=13.8150 pesos as of end Dec)

(Reporting by Mica Rosenberg, Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)

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