PPC loss widens to 244 million euros

Public Power Corporation (PPC), the country’s biggest electricity producer, posted a larger-than-expected loss in the first nine months of the year, as fuel costs rose and it set aside funds to pay for emissions of carbon dioxide. PPC said it made a nine-monthly net loss of 244.6 million euros versus profits of 60 million euros a year ago. That includes a provision of 108.7 million euros for carbon emission rights. Analysts forecast the loss to be in the range of 224 million to 230 million euros. Sales in the nine months rose 15 percent to 4.42 billion euros after the government allowed the utility to raise some of its tariffs to help offset rising costs. Earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) fell 54 percent to 280.8 million euros. PPC has struggled to improve earnings as a lack of rain cripples its ability to use cheaper hydropower to supply customers, forcing it to rely on more expensive gas- and oil-fired generation. PPC shares, which have plummeted 65 percent in the last 12 months, jumped 3.26 percent to 10.76 euros on the Athens bourse after the figures were made public yesterday. The broader market advanced 1.84 percent. Analysts said investors have priced into stocks bad news on the earnings front for this year and expect improved performance in 2009 as falling fuel prices lower operating costs.