VERBUND reported markedly better earnings and cash flow figures in quarter 1/2018 in a climate of an improving energy market. The encouraging figures resulted from the Group’s strategic focus on the generation of carbon-free, renewable electricity, on marketing flexible electricity products and on the regulated, stable high-voltage grid as well as on innovative services for industrial customers and consumers. Various efficiency increase programmes focussing on free cash flow and debt reduction gave significant support to the positive trend.
EBITDA increased by 18.7% to €270.0m in quarter 1/2018, the operating result rose by 33.1% year on year to €188.1m and the Group result was up by a substantial 30.1% to €121.6m. These figures were positively impacted by the improved water supply from rivers, with the hydro coefficient amounting to 1.17, or 17 percentage points above the long-term average and 25 percentage points above the level of quarter 1/2017. Generation from annual storage power plants also rose substantially, resulting in a considerable increase of 1,598 GWh, or 28.6%, in generation from hydropower. Other positive effects came from the higher earnings contribution from the Grid segment, which was mainly the result of lower expenditure for procuring congestion management services and the good results achieved with the programmes to reduce costs and increase efficiency implemented in recent years. By contrast, revenue from flexible products saw the anticipated decline, given that quarter 1/2017 had been exceptionally positive for flexible products.
All of the Group’s other KPIs improved significantly as well. Cash flow from operating activities was up by 94.6% to €298.5m, and free cash flow before dividends increased by 154.6% to €240.9m. Net debt therefore decreased by 17.3% to €2,589.4m. The EBITDA margin improved from 28.1% to 36.1%.
Earnings forecast for 2018 raised
Thanks to the good water supply occurring in quarter 1/2018, verbund has raised its earnings forecast for financial year 2018. Based on expectations of average levels of own generation from hydropower and wind power in quarters 2–4/2018, the company is forecasting EBITDA of around €870m and a Group result of approximately €320m in financial year 2018. verbund is planning a dividend payout ratio between 40% and 45% of the Group result for financial year 2018 after adjustment for non-recurring effects.