TrustPower's profits just above expectations

Trustpower produced an annual profit for the 12 months ended March just better than expected and probably not good enough to see any material upgrade in broker forecasts.

The company's operating profit of $277.4 million for the period was down 5.9% from the $294.8 million reported in the previous corresponding period.

Reported profit of $152.9 million was down 6.7% on the pcp but 1.7% ahead of Forsyth Barr forecasts.

Forsyth Barr broker Andrew Rooney said that some ''slightly negative'' figures below the operating line meant normalised profit was only $2.3 million ahead of his forecast at $108 million.

''There was no single area where TrustPower outperformed our numbers. It was a combination of factors. Electricity revenue was ahead by $2.4 million, predominantly made up from Australia.''

Other revenue was up $1.8 million and although the reason was not 100% clear, it was likely to be from irrigation revenue, he said.

The outlook comments were limited, with a bland statement the company expected earnings momentum to be regained in 2015 - no big surprise given the completion of Snowtown II wind farm.

TrustPower did say the wind farm continued to progress well and 81% of the 90 turbines were now commissioned. There only remained 10 turbines to be erected and the wind farm was on schedule to be fully commissioned in September, two months ahead of schedule, Mr Rooney said.

TrustPower chairman Bruce Harker said the company had previously noted two significant events giving it cause to reflect on the level of regulatory risk the group was exposed to in New Zealand.

They were the Electricity Authority's proposals to revise the current transmission pricing framework and the Labour-Green proposal to abolish the current competitive wholesale and retail market model and replace it with a single-buyer model.

''At this stage, it remains unclear whether the Electricity Authority will push ahead with its reform proposals and a final decision is not expected to be made until 2015.''

The Labour and Green parties had released little further detail on the single-buyer model, Dr Harker said.

While the regulatory overhang of those issues continued, TrustPower's views had not changed.

The group believed significant policy changes needed to be carefully managed.

''TrustPower and the electricity industry need a stable and workable regulatory environment to work in. New Zealand can ill afford dramatic regulatory and policy interventions that cast aside the framework on which investors have made long-term investment decisions,'' he said.


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