ECONOMY

PPC lifted by tariff hikes

The Public Power Corporation yesterday reported a 32.2 percent jump in nine-month net profits as two tariff hikes within a year and increased energy consumption lifted revenues. The electricity utility, in which the State plans to offload another tranche of shares by the end of the year, said it plans to recommend a dividend of at least 47 cents per share for this year in the event that it manages to sustain its strong performance for the rest of the year. Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) in the nine-month period increased by 17.8 percent to 771 million euros, with the EBITDA margin improving to 30.6 percent from 28.4 percent. The unaudited results were in accordance with International Accounting Standards. Net profits rose by 32.2 percent to 261 million euros, boosting earnings per share to 1.13 euros from 90 cents in the same period last year. The earnings gain came after PPC boosted sales by 9.2 percent to 2.52 billion euros on the back of a 5.8 percent jump in consumption and two rate increases within a year. A tight grip on non-operating costs helped to offset higher operating outlays, which rose 5.8 percent as a result of a higher wage bill and imports of electricity. Non-operating costs declined by 31 percent to 136 million euros as the company cut back on its borrowing and also benefited from favorable foreign exchange movements. The State floated 15 percent of PPC late last year and is planning to sell another 12-15 percent on the market by the end of the year. The European Commission last month ordered the government to compensate PPC up to 1.4 billion euros as compensation for the liberalization of the energy market, partially deregulated in February last year. PPC shares were down 1.04 percent yesterday.