Greece’s largest power company, Public Power Corporation (PPC), said yesterday first-quarter profit rose 4.4 percent on lower operating costs and increased production of cheaper hydropower, beating market forecasts. «Results were satisfactory, exceeding budget levels, mainly because of exceptionally good water conditions… and cost control,» CEO Arthouros Zervos said. Falling energy prices allowed PPC to cut its fuel and power imports bill by 15 percent, or 61.9 million euros, from last year, while strong rainfall boosted low-cost hydropower generation. PPC made a 257.5-million-euro net profit, versus a forecast for 227 million in a Reuters poll. Sales fell 2.3 percent to 1.49 billion euros, meeting forecasts. Operating expenses fell 5 percent to 968.1 million euros after the company spent less to buy oil and natural gas for power generation. Piraeus Securities described the figures as being «a healthy set of results, driven by the significant increase in hydro generation.» «On the flip side, market share losses in the commercial segment of the market seem to be accelerating,» it added. The entry of competitors into the retail market, which PPC maintains operates under extensive tariff discrepancies, has seen newcomers cherry-pick customers, aiming at unjustifiable and short-term profit, the power company said recently. Despite the good news, PPC shares underperformed the broader market yesterday, sliding 2.53 percent to 12.72 euros. The Athens bourse advanced 0.44 percent.