In light of the corona crisis, E.ON SE CEO Johannes Teyssen emphasized: 'Energy utilities have a special significance for critical infrastructure in this crisis and thus a special responsibility. We're Europe's biggest operator of energy networks.
Their reliability and continuous availability is of paramount importance for health care, public order, and people everywhere. We will do everything in our power to ensure supply security, even in this situation. Despite the difficult times, more than 14,000 of our employees are working for our customers in our networks and at our production facilities. Policymakers and the general public can count on us in this period as well.' Teyssen affirmed that the company would join other utilities to support the German Energy Association's pledge, until further notice, not to disconnect financially vulnerable customers.
Teyssen also addressed the corona crisis's possible implications for the company: 'Overall, the energy industry doubtless won't be as hard hit as other industries. But will still expect the crisis to leave its mark on our bottom line. Industrial and commercial customers are consuming noticeably less energy. This will have a temporary impact our network and sales businesses. There may be delays in our ability to deliver energy infrastructure projects.' E.ON also anticipates a temporary decline in demand at its B2B business as well. After the current crisis, however, network expansion and the installation of climate-friendly energy infrastructure will surely be even more crucial. 'E.ON is confident that it will be able to overcome the current challenges, even if it's not yet possible to make a serious estimate of how long the crisis will last or how severe its repercussions will ultimately be. We're robust and resilient. We stand for supply security, even in this challenging situation. And we'll remain a reliable partner for our customers and the general public.'
Centerpiece and value driver of the new E.ON's business model: sustainability.
The new E.ON's business model focuses on customer-oriented energy infrastructure for the distributed and digital energy world that is crucial for the energy transition's success. Its centerpiece is sustainability. Teyssen said: 'Our new focused business model enables us to benefit from the megatrends of decarbonization, distributed solutions, and digitization. Our company has set clear climate targets: E.ON itself will be climate-neutral by 2040, and we'll supply our customers with climate-neutral energy by 2050. In addition, we offer our customers cutting-edge solutions to reduce their carbon intensity. This too is part of our commitment to corporate social responsibility. Our new business model will make E.ON more predictable and more resilient, which is significant advantage in times of growing uncertainty.'
Review of the 2019 financial year: targets achieved
The innogy takeover was the predominant feature of the 2019 financial year, in which the Essen-based energy company grew its sales to EUR41.5 billion (prior year: EUR30.1 billion), thereby again improving its results year on year. The more than EUR10 billion increase is primarily attributable to the acquisition of the innogy Group in September 2019. Adjusted EBIT rose significantly-by 9 percent-to EUR3.2 billion (EUR3 billion). Adjusted net income of EUR1.5 billion was at the prior-year level. This is the fourth year in a row that E.ON's operating earnings have been in the upper half of its forecast range.
E.ON's core operating businesses-Energy Networks and Customer Solutions-both posted solid earnings. Energy Networks' adjusted EBIT of EUR1,888 million was at the prior-year level. The EUR100 million decline at Customer Solutions to EUR313 million is principally attributable to regulatory price caps and lower customer numbers in the United Kingdom. E.ON is fundamentally restructuring its U.K. business to achieve a turnaround and generate earnings of at least GBP 100 million as early as 2022.
E.ON's 2019 earnings for the first time include EUR421 million in earnings from innogy following the takeover in September. These earnings were generated principally in innogy's network business, primarily in Germany. innogy's contribution was partially offset by the absence of the businesses in the Renewables segment that were transferred to RWE.
Infrastructure: E.ON to invest billions in distributed energy and climate protection.
Going forward, 90 percent of E.ON's investments into its core business will go toward customer-oriented energy infrastructure, namely in local and regional energy networks and helping E.ON's customers expand their own distributed energy infrastructure. Moreover, the innogy takeover increased the proportion of E.ON's earnings generated by regulated businesses from about 65 percent to about 80 percent. 'We're going to expand our predominantly regulate power asset base by 3 percent to 5 percent annually. This makes us particularly attractive to long-term, sustainability-oriented investors', CFO Marc Spieker said. Realizing Europe's vision of becoming a climate-neutral continent by 2050 will require substantial investments in renewables capacity and thus a massive expansion of energy infrastructure. Experts estimate that Germany alone will have to spend over EUR150 billion through 2050 to expand its distribution networks.
'The energy system is becoming increasingly complicated, which will create the need for additional investment in eMobility, the electrification of heating systems, further decarbonization, and energy storage. Consequently, the energy transition represents a major, multi-year investment opportunity for our local energy networks. It will enable us to further strengthen our position as a leading network operator. The implementation of the European Green Deal will accelerate these developments', Teyssen explained.
Dividend: operating business to provide solid foundation for reliable dividend year after year
In line with the company's current dividend policy, the E.ON SE Management Board and Supervisory Board intend to recommend that shareholders be paid a dividend of EUR0.46 per share for the 2019 financial year. E.ON will continue to pursue this reliable dividend policy in the future and plans annual growth in dividend per share of up to 5 percent through the dividend for the 2022 financial year. E.ON will aim for an annual increase in dividend per share after that as well. CFO Marc Spieker said: 'Focusing our investments on energy networks and embedded energy infrastructure for customers will enhance E.ON's future resilience and ability to weather crises. It will enable us to retain the trust of our customers, the general public, and our owners and thus provide the foundation for investments in the future.'
The integration of innogy will be the key characteristic the current year. E.ON expects synergies of EUR740 million from 2022 onward and EUR780 million from 2024 onward.
The E.ON Management Board anticipates that the 2020 financial year, the first full year to include innogy, will see the company post another earnings increase, although it has not yet factored in the possible implications of the corona crisis. E.ON expects the Group's adjusted EBIT to be between EUR3.9 and EUR4.1 billion and its adjusted net income to be between EUR1.7 and EUR1.9 billion. Spieker forecast average annual EBIT growth of 7 percent to 9 percent for 2020 to 2022. E.ON anticipates earnings increases in both of its core business segments, whereas earnings at Non-Core Business will decline going forward as the company's nuclear power stations will be shut down by year-end 2022. E.ON pledged to maintain its steadfast financial discipline and reaffirmed its target of a strong BBB/Baa rating.
This press release may contain forward-looking statements based on current assumptions and forecasts made by E.ON Group Management and other information currently available to E.ON. Various known and unknown risks, uncertainties, and other factors could lead to material differences between the actual future results, financial situation, development or performance of the company and the estimates given here. E.ON SE does not intend, and does not assume any liability whatsoever, to update these forward-looking statements or to align them to future events or developments.
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