PPC sees net loss as energy, fuel prices rise

Public Power Corporation, Greece?s biggest electricity company, posted a first-quarter loss after increased sales failed to offset the higher cost of fuel, gas and energy purchases.

PPC had a net loss of 1.4 million euros in the three months to March 31 compared with a profit of 93.3 million euros in the same quarter of 2011, the Athens-based company said on Tuesday in a filing to the city?s bourse.

It also said it has 1 billion euros in long-term debt to be repaid during the remainder of 2012.

While total electricity sales, including exports, increased by almost 6 percent, this was more than offset by about an 83 percent rise in the cost of fuel, natural gas and energy purchases, the company said.

Revenue from electricity sales rose 17.4 percent in the first quarter, ?driven by tariff increases in low- and medium-voltage customers categories, market share recovery and weather-related increase of demand,? Arthouros Zervos, PPC?s chairman and chief executive officer, said in the statement.

The company was also hit by a doubling in Greece from June 2011 of a special consumption tax on heavy fuel oil and in September by a usage tax on natural gas, PPC said.

It added it had to increase energy purchases by 44 percent, including from abroad, because of lower power generation from cheaper hydro and lignite coal sources and an increase in demand owing to cold weather in January and February.

Fuel and energy purchases, as well as the cost of carbon dioxide emission rights, accounted for almost 55 percent of total revenue in the quarter compared with more than 35 percent last year, PPC said.

Total revenue rose almost 13 percent to 1.55 billion in the first quarter this year.

Payroll costs fell more than 17 percent, or by 55.7 million euros, in the quarter with 651 fewer employees at the end of March compared with the same time in 2011, according to the statement.