Uniper off to stable start in 2017 financial year
DGAP-News: Uniper SE / Key word(s): Quarterly / Interim Statement
Uniper's first-quarter operating performance maintained the momentum from 2016, its solid first financial year. Uniper generated adjusted EBIT of EUR514 million. Although that represents a year-on-year decline of about EUR360 million, in the first quarter of 2016 Uniper benefited from extraordinarily high positive one-off effects. Alongside the roughly EUR400 million resulting from the agreement with Gazprom to adjust the terms of long-term gas procurement contracts, Uniper recorded significant earnings at its gas optimization activities in the first quarter of 2016. On the positive side, the impairment charge on Berezovskaya 3, Uniper's damaged generating unit in Russia, did not recur in the first quarter of 2017. If these items are factored out, Uniper's first-quarter operating earnings were roughly at the prior-year level.
"The first quarter of 2017 laid a good foundation for the rest of the year and for us to meet our forecast," CFO Christopher Delbrück said. "Today we therefore affirm our forecast for our full-year adjusted EBIT to be between EUR0.9 and EUR1.2 billion and our plan to increase the dividend for 2017 financial year by about 15 percent."
Unlike last year, International Power's operating earnings were not adversely affected by significant one-off items. Its adjusted EBIT rose by EUR147 million to EUR92 million
Uniper recorded first-quarter net income of EUR751 million (Q1 2016: EUR646 million). Net income attributable to Uniper shareholders totaled EUR733 million (Q1 2016: 646 million). The increase relative to the prior-year quarter is principally attributable to earnings effects from the marking to market of derivative financial instruments at the balance-sheet date. Uniper uses derivatives in part to hedge our long-term power and gas positions in it trading business.
Uniper's first-quarter operating cash flow before interest and taxes totaled EUR919 million and benefited primarily from seasonal effects in working capital: cold temperatures early in the year resulted in significant withdrawals from the company's gas-storage facilities, which improved its cash inflow.
The positive development of Uniper's operating cash flow was also a key factor in the reduction of its economic net debt, which declined by EUR1.2 billion, from EUR4.2 billion at year-end 2015 to EUR3.0 billion at March 31, 2017. However, the comparatively high availability of funds, which helped reduce the company's debt, was primarily the result of balance-sheet-date effects. Alongside the seasonal effects in operating cash flow, Uniper's investment expenditures were comparatively low in the first quarter, as is typical for the start of the year. Furthermore, the dividend for the 2016 financial year has not yet been paid out to Uniper shareholders. In the remainder of the year, these factors will influence Uniper's available funds accordingly.
"For us to continue to work systematically to further improve Uniper's cash and thus debt situation independent of balance-sheet-date effects, the successful conclusion of the sale of our stake in Yuzhno Russkoye gas field remains a high priority," Delbrück said. "We continue to expect the transaction to close by the end of the year at the latest."
In anticipation of a further significant reduction of Uniper's economic net debt following the successful conclusion of the sale of its stake in Yuzhno Russkoye gas field, rating agency Standard & Poor's raised the outlook for Uniper's rating from stable to positive. This reflects the possibility that the rating could be upgraded from BBB- to BBB. This would be in line with Uniper's goal of having a comfortable investment-grade rating.
First-quarter cash-effective investments of EUR140 million were up slightly
Uniper's sales and earnings performance in the first quarter of 2017
1Adjusted to exclude non-operating effects.
This press release may contain forward-looking statements based on current assumptions and forecasts made by Uniper SE management and other information currently available to Uniper. Various known and unknown risks, uncertainties, and other factors could lead to material differences between the actual future results, financial situation, development or performance of the company and the estimates given here. Uniper SE does not intend, and does not assume any liability whatsoever, to update these forward-looking statements or to conform them to future events or developments.
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