17 Aug 2017

Dry winter dampens Contact Energy's profit

1:33 pm on 17 August 2017

A dry winter and low hydro-lakes have put a dampener on profits of the country's biggest listed power company Contact Energy.

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Photo: 123rf.com

Contact Energy's net profit for the year ended June was $150 million, compared with the previous year's loss of $66m, which included large writedowns of an old power station and other assets.

The adjusted profit, leaving aside the one-off items, was down about 10 percent to $141m.

Contact chief executive Dennis Barnes said hydro generation in the last quarter of its financial year was limited by a dry winter.

"This year we saw a sudden and significant swing in hydrology with above average hydro generation storage at the beginning of the year giving way to 80-year-low inflows into the key South Island lakes."

That forced the company to burn more expensive gas to meet power demand.

However, it also cut its costs and reduce its debt and capital spending.

Its number of customers rose by 4500 to 567,000, while the level of churn - customers switching power companies - was 19.6 percent, compared with the industry average of 21.4 percent.

The company gave no forecast for the coming year, but said it expected to pay an increased full year dividend of 32 cents per share, compared with this year's 26 cps.

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