Chairman of the Managing Board Michael Pistauer: "On the basis of the positive earnings trend, we are confirming our earnings forecast for fiscal 2008. We anticipate that the operating result and the group result will increase in any case by 20 % compared to 2007."
In quarters 1-3/2008, the control-specific ratios displayed the following development: The EBIT margin rose from 30.4 % to
33.6 % and the EBITDA margin improved from 36.4 % to 38.6 %. Net gearing was lowered from 82.0 % to 76.7 %. The operating cash flow was also significantly improved - it increased from 512.6 million to 985.1 million Euro. The Economic Value Added displayed a plus of 44.5 %.
Operating cash flow
The increase in European wholesale prices for electricity compared to the previous year and the above-average water supply had a positive effect on the result but the drop in generation at the thermal power plants and one-off effects did, however, have an adverse impact.
This year, VERBUND once again recorded a significant increase in its average sales prices in the European electricity markets. By the end of September, VERBUND had already sold 57 % of its own generation for fiscal 2009 at clearly increased prices. The water supply of the Austrian rivers lay 2 % above the long-term average and 11 % above the value recorded in the previous year.
Ongoing expansion of power plants and grid in Austria
In Austria, parts of the power plant and transmission line expansion program initiated by VERBUND, with a total investment volume of approx. 2.8 billion Euro up to 2015, are progressing well ahead of schedule. Work on the peak electricity power plant "Limberg II" is now four months ahead of the originally agreed deadlines. Operations at the pumped storage power plant, which will double the capacity of the Kaprun power plant group, are scheduled to commence in 2012.
The construction work for the Mellach natural gas combined cycle power plant is about to commence. The corresponding contract with the supplier Siemens Austria was signed at the end of July. From 2011, the plant will supply 5 TWh of electricity and 0.8 TWh of district heating per year.
The construction of the Styria line, an important section of the 380 kV high-voltage ring in Austria, is also proceeding according to schedule. The commissioning of the 100 km-long transmission line, which will significantly enhance security of supply in Austria and Styria, is scheduled for mid-2009.
End customer business expanded
VERBUND's activities in the Austrian end customer segment are also thriving: In just over three years, the distribution subsidiary VERBUND-Austrian Power Sales GmbH (APS) has already acquired approx. 165,000 customers.
New power plant project abroad
VERBUND is also enjoying a high level of success at an international level and plans are already in place to invest approx. 4 billion Euro by 2015. VERBUND secured a contract for the construction of the 48 MW Ashta hydropower plant on the River Drin near the town of Shkoder in Albania. The corresponding contract was signed on 30 September 2008 in Tirana. The project will be carried out in cooperation with EVN under the industrial leadership of VERBUND. Commissioning is planned for 2012.
VERBUND's joint ventures in Italy, France and Turkey are also developing well. Progress has been made, not least in the renewable energies area where activities have been intensified this year: The two photovoltaic power plants acquired by VERBUND in Spain were recently connected to the grid. The plants have a total capacity of 3 MW.
Strong financing power
Pistauer: "VERBUND's growth strategy has hardly been impacted by the turbulence on the international financial markets." Due to the positive earnings trend, the increasing cash flow and the strong rating, VERBUND has strong internal financing power and adequate liquidity.