Sales revenue fell by 1.1 percent to 881.6 million euro. The operating result sank by 7.2 percent to 256.0 million euro. The group result was down 5.8 percent at 197.8 million euro.
The global economic turbulence has also had an adverse effect on the electricity industry. Lower electricity prices on the electricity exchanges, a decline in the demand for electricity and a poorer water supply had a dampening effect on the Verbund result. Negative one-off effects also had an adverse effect on group profits. In spite of this and in the presence of unfavorable economic conditions, the company further reinforced its position as the leading electricity utility in Austria and one of the leading hydropower groups in Europe.
Recipe against downturn: anticyclic investment
Verbund CEO Wolfgang Anzengruber: "Our recipe for combating the economic downturn is based on anticyclic investment, which will allow us to profit to an even greater extent in the course of a future upturn. This year, Verbund will invest more than 1 billion euro in the expansion and renovation of the energy infrastructure. More that 600 million euro of this amount will be invested in Austria."
First quarter of 2009 characterized by three factors
The prices on the electricity exchanges already started to fall in the second half of 2008 and this trend continued in the first quarter of 2009: The spot market prices for base load (47.4 euro/MWh) and peak load electricity (60.9 euro/MWh) on the German electricity exchange EEX displayed a drop of almost 16 percent compared to the values recorded in the previous year. Verbund, however, has been using a proven hedging strategy for many years: A large share of the electricity is already sold a year in advance. Hence, Verbund was able to achieve higher average sales prices in 2009 on the basis of the high electricity prices in the first half of 2008. This had a positive effect on the result for the first quarter.
The decline in the water supply from Austrian rivers had a negative impact: The throughflow rate was 3 percent below the long-term average; the drop compared to the corresponding quarter of the previous year was even as high as 6 percent. As a result, generation in the hydropower plants was 4.4 percent lower than in the corresponding period in 2008. The decline in generation in the run-of-river power plants was, however, partly compensated by the 10 percent increase in generation in the storage power plants. In total, own generation fell by 5.8 percent.
The result for quarter 1/2009 was also burdened by negative one-off accounting measures which result, above all, from unscheduled maintenance measures and inventory adjustments for fuels. This burdened the operating result in the amount of approx. 33 million euro.
Expansion of energy infrastructure
Power plant and line construction projects in Austria are progressing swiftly. The pumped storage power plant "Limberg II" near Kaprun is currently four months ahead of the originally agreed deadlines. The new peak electricity power plant will be commissioned in 2011.
The Styria line, an important section of the future 380 kV high-voltage ring in Austria, is almost completed: The new 100-km-long line will be commissioned in less than three months time.
Foreign joint ventures investing strongly
Verbund's international activities are also developing positively. The joint ventures in Italy, France and Turkey are developing successfully and investing strongly. In the third quarter of 2009, the Italian company Sorgenia will commission its second natural gas power plant, the 770-megawatt power plant Modugno. The thermal power plant Pont sur Sambre, which is owned by Verbund's French joint venture POWEO, will also be commissioned soon. The 412-megawatt power plant will significantly increase the POWEOs own generation. Further power plants are currently being planned in Italy and France.
In January 2009, Verbund and its partner in Turkey, the Sabanci-Holding, finalized the largest privatization deal ever to take place in the Turkish electricity market: The purchase of the distribution grid company Baskent EDAS which supplies approx. 3 million customers in the Ankara region. The jointly-owned Turkish subsidiary Enerjisa is also making great progress: The gas power plant Bandirma (920 megawatts) and six hydropower plants (combined total of 870 megawatts) have been approved and are already under construction. The decision relating to the construction of the Canakkale wind farm , which will have a capacity of 30 megawatts in the first expansion phase, was taken at the end of January.
Verbund expects that the economic conditions will remain difficult throughout fiscal 2009. In spite of the unfavorable conditions, Verbund aims, on the basis of an average water supply, to achieve similar results to those reported in the previous year and also intends to adhere to its current dividend policy.