ESSEN (dpa-AFX) - Despite a decline in earnings, the energy group RWE has made a better start to the year than analysts expected. While solar and wind power generation at sea and on land performed better than in the same period last year, flexible generation fared much worse. This includes business with hydropower, biomass and gas. The DAX-listed company also performed slightly weaker in energy trading. The Executive Board confirmed its forecast for the year. The share price fell slightly in early trading.

In the first quarter, RWE achieved an operating result before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) of 1.71 billion euros, more than a quarter less than a year earlier. Adjusted net profit fell even more sharply by almost 40 percent to 801 million euros. However, according to the data provided by the company, analysts had expected even less.

RWE's electricity production fell by a total of 9 percent to just under 34,000 gigawatt hours, with almost one fifth more electricity coming from renewable energy sources. Renewables now account for 42 percent of RWE's electricity production, while coal accounts for 28 percent.

Chief Financial Officer Michael Müller spoke in the press release of a good first quarter. Investments are paying off, he said. The company is continuing to invest heavily, particularly in renewable energies. RWE invested a total of almost 2.9 billion euros in the first quarter. Almost two thirds of this went into the expansion of offshore wind power and just under a third was spent on onshore solar and wind power plants.

For the year as a whole, RWE continues to expect to achieve the lower end of the forecast ranges issued: For profit in the day-to-day business, this is between 5.2 and 5.8 billion euros. In the worst-case scenario, this would be around a third less than RWE earned in 2023. The range for adjusted net profit is between 1.9 and 2.4 billion euros, which would mean a decline of up to a good 50 percent. Lower electricity prices in particular are putting pressure on earnings.

For Alberto Gandolfi from Goldman Sachs, the merely confirmed forecast harbors a certain opportunity potential. He pointed out that the adjusted group profit already accounts for 42 percent of the target. He praised the figures for the first quarter as "very strong" and was positively surprised by the net debt. It amounted to 11.2 billion euros in the first quarter./lew/niw/jha/