Shortly after the complete opening of the Austrian power market VERBUND presented its quarterly report 1-3/2001, showing a positive development in the company’s performance.
VERBUND increased its group result considerably versus last year’s comparative period, to approx. 85 million EUR (+ 91 %). Whereas the operating result improved slightly to 224.1 million EUR (+0.5 %) due to successful sales in Austria and abroad – although in the aggregate pressure on margins remained – and additional reductions of expense, a considerable increase was recorded in the group result thanks to a strong finance result.
The cash flow, which increased by approx. 30 million EUR (+12 %), was a considerable support in the group’s consistent reduction of indebtedness and contributed to a lasting improvement of the capital structure.
The sales revenue increased by approx. 230 million EUR (24.9 %) in total. The continued expansion of international sales (+113 %) and of sales to domestic business customers (+31 %) clearly made up for the continued drop in sales to the provincial electricity companies (-15 %). As a whole, the international sales accounted for 53 % of the total sales. The grid sales remained largely the same as last year (+1.8 %).
Due to a continued expansion of the trading activities within Europe – the VERBUND subsidiary APT ranks among the most active power traders in Central Europe – the expense for power purchases increased by approx. 253 million EUR (-120 %) and led to a reduction of the contribution margins.
All the other expense items were reduced once more thanks to persistent restructuring measures during the first nine months of 2001. The personnel expenses were reduced by approx. 22 million EUR (+ 9 %) to 229.3 million EUR - primarily as a result of socially acceptable manpower cuts (early retirement) and the pension severance payments made in the past years. The employees’ waiver of all voluntary welfare payments the group had offered previously constitutes a considerable support in reducing expenses in the future. The other operating expenses, too, have been reduced by a total of approx. 11 million EUR (+12.3 %) - although the advertising costs have increased in the liberalized power market - as maintenance costs have been reduced.
The financial result was clearly relieved - by approx. 54 million EUR or 36 % - thanks to the continued reduction of the group’s indebtedness (approx. 500 million EUR) and positive valuation-related exchange effects from foreign currency liabilities. As a result the profit before taxes increased by approx. 75 % to 129 million EUR. The group result after minority interests rose by 91 % to 84.6 million EUR.
The earnings per share went up significantly, to 2.74 EUR (+90 %), compared to last year. The ratios relevant for the capital market also improved, partly to a considerable degree.