Increased operating result and Group result
The operating result rose by 22.2% to €263.6m. The primary reason for this was significantly higher electricity generation due to the very good water supply – generation from hydropower increased by 1,103 GWh.
At 1.19, the hydro coefficient of the run-of-river power plants was 19.0% above the long-term average and 20 percentage points above the previous year’s level. Generation from annual storage power plants also increased significantly (+29.7%). This can be attributed in particular to the high storage levels at the beginning of the year. Generation from thermal power plants increased by 239 GWh. The reasons for this were the purchase of all electricity generated by the Pont-sur-Sambre combined cycle gas turbine power plant (CCGT) in France since 1 March 2011 (+127 GWh) and generation from the newly constructed Mellach CCGT under trial operation in Styria (+395 GWh), while generation from other thermal power plants in Austria decreased (–282 GWh).
At 8,328 GWh, VERBUND’s own generation in quarter 1/2012 was 1,358 GWh higher than in quarter 1/2011. In addition, VERBUND profited from an overall higher price level. At an average of €56.0/MWh, electricity prices applicable for the 2012 financial year (forward contracts “Year Base 2012” traded in 2011) were up 12.3% over the previous year’s level. This increase was due in particular to the nuclear disaster in Fukushima and Germany’s subsequent phase-out of nuclear energy.
VERBUND already included around 60% of its own generation in 2011 over the forward market based on its hedging strategy. In contrast, spot market prices fell by 13.0% to €45.1/MWh in quarter 1/2012. Spot price development was driven above all by low demand due to market conditions and the low prices for emission rights. The Group result increased by 10.2% year-on-year to €119.5m. The lower increase compared to net operating income can be attributed to the expenses for the French Toul CCGT as a result of the unfavourable development of profitability for gas power plants in Europe.
Outlook on the full year
Given the uncertain macroeconomic and financial environment and the resulting difficult conditions in the energy industry, it is impossible at present to give a serious earnings forecast for 2012. VERBUND plans to provide an outlook on the full year with the publication of its half-year results. The dividend policy will aim for a payout ratio of approximately 50% of the Group result.