HONG KONG (Reuters) - Shares in Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd (0293.HK), Asia's No.4 carrier by market value, slid more than 3 percent on Wednesday after it posted a bigger-than-expected 61 percent drop in 2011 net profit and warned of a more challenging year ahead.
Cathay Pacific's stock fell more than 3.7 percent to HK$14.98, lagging a 0.3 percent decline in the Hang Seng Index .HSI.
The world's largest air cargo carrier reported an annual net profit of HK$5.5 billion, down from a record HK$14.05 billion in 2010, which included a HK$3 billion profit from the sale of its interests in two units.
The result was slightly below an average forecast of HK$5.82 billion from 17 analysts polled by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
The cost of fuel, which is Cathay's biggest single expense, rose 44 percent to HK$12.46 billion in 2011, it said.
Reporting By Alison Leung; Editing by Anne Marie Rowntree and Chris Lewis