MADRID, July 27 (Reuters) – Spanish power utility Gas Natural (GAS.MC) issued a cautious strategic outlook to 2010-2014 on Tuesday and plans to focus on cutting debt, after first-half results missed forecasts.
The company expects EBITDA growth to slow to 2012 from the double-digit first-half rise and wants to cut its debt to 15-16 billion euros in 2012 from 18.2 billion euros at the end of the first half.
Gas Natural said it would attempt to extract further value from its Fenosa unit, acquired in 2008, to fuel net profit to 1.5 billion euros in 2012 and about 2 billion in 2014, compared with 1.1 billion euros in 2009.
In Gas Natural’s first strategic plan since the company acquired Fenosa in 2008, the company said it had already achieved 98 percent of the 550 million euros of savings it targeted with Fenosa.
Gas Natural posted a 48 percent surge in first-half earnings before interest, taxes, depreciations and amortizations to 2.381 million euros, boosted by the full consolidation of Fenosa in April 2009, although this missed estimates by analysts for 2.40 billion euros.
Net profit rose 37 percent to 853 million euros, supported by the sale of gas generation and distribution assets but also missed forecasts for 917 million euros from a Reuters poll of seven analysts.
Strong electricity generation and Latin American activities offset weakness at Gas Natural’s gas and deregulated business to contribute to modest 3.8 percent pro-forma growth in first half EBITDA, which factors in the Fenosa acquisition.
(Reporting by Jonathan Gleave; editing by Simon Jessop)