27 Jan 2005
The Directors are pleased to announce an unaudited after tax surplus for the nine months to 31 December 2004 of $61.5 million, compared with $52.7 million for the same period last year, an increase of 17 per cent.
Earnings before Interest, Tax, Depreciation and Amortisation ("EBITDA") were $139.8 million versus $114.9 million for the same period last year, an increase of 22 per cent.
The New Zealand electricity trading environment for the first nine months has featured lake storage levels and inflows that have been above average. Accordingly, spot electricity prices have been significantly lower compared with the prior year when spot prices were high due to lower hydro storage levels. (Load weighted average price paid for the nine months to 31 December 2004 was $37 per MWh versus $82 per MWh in the nine months to 31 December 2003.)
TrustPower's own generation assets produced 1648 GWh during the first nine months versus 1366 GWh in the prior period, an increase of 21 per cent, due to favourable generation conditions and the additional output from the Tararua Wind Farm. Many of TrustPower's hydro generation storage catchments are at high levels leaving the Company well positioned over the medium term.
Customer numbers at 31 December 2004 have remained at 224,000 compared with 31 March 2004.
The Company's balance sheet remains strong with relatively minor movement from the 2004 financial year end position. Debt to debt plus equity was 31 per cent as at 31 December 2004 compared with 47 per cent at the same time last year. The revaluation of generation assets, announced with the 2004 year end result, is the main reason for this reduction in gearing.
TrustPower remains focused on hydro generation and wind farm development opportunities in New Zealand, including those previously reported, and wind farm development opportunities in South Australia. The Company has submitted a resource consent application for a third stage development of 120 MW at the Tararua Wind Farm.
Negotiations with counterparties in relation to the South Australian Wind Farm projects are continuing and the Company now expects that these will be concluded by the end of March 2005. While the rate of progress has been a little frustrating, new opportunities with respect to the Snowtown Wind Farm Project have been identified which the Company expects will contribute to a stronger investment case and justify a delay in making a decision to proceed with this investment.
TrustPower is performing above expectations and at this stage the Directors anticipate that another good full year result should be achieved.
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