8 Oct 2008

Contact Energy forecast lowered

3:51 pm on 8 October 2008

Contact Energy has downgraded its full-year earnings forecast, blaming extreme weather conditions and systemic transmission constraints.

Earnings for the electricity generator and retailer dropped 1% to $237 million in the year to June.

When Contact Energy announced its results in August, it said it did not expect to significantly outperform its 2008 result in the new trading year.

At the time, the company said a lack of rain in the South Island hydro lakes and transmission constraints between the two islands was having a significant impact on its performance and it was too early to give an accurate forecast.

In an presentation to retail investors on Wednesday, the company says its first quarter performance has been well below expectations, and it does not expect to outperform its 2008 financial results.

Despite short-term constraints, Contact says it will continue to leverage its advantages across the four primary fuel types.

The downgrade comes before the company's annual meeting in two weeks' time, when it will seek shareholders' approval to double directors' pay to $1.5 million.

But the vote will be a formality, as Contact's majority owner has signalled its support.