By Jaime Llinares Taboada
SSE PLC on Wednesday backed its dividend policy and reported consensus-beating adjusted earnings for fiscal 2020, sending shares up over 10% in early trade. Here's what you need to know:
ADJUSTED OPERATING PROFIT: SSE reported an adjusted operating profit of 1.49 billion pounds ($1.88 billion), up from GBP1.09 billion a year earlier, and above the GBP1.47 billion market consensus--taken from FactSet and based on four analysts' forecasts.
ADJUSTED EPS: The group reported adjusted earnings per share of 83.6 pence, in line with guidance given in March--which forecast EPS at the bottom end of an 83 pence to 88 pence range--and slightly above the market consensus of 83.2 pence a share taken from FactSet and based on 16 estimates. This is up from 67.10 pence in fiscal 2019.
WHAT WE WATCHED:
--DIVIDEND: SSE confirmed the 80 pence a share payment for fiscal 2020. It also pledged to maintain good liquidity, reduce cash outflow and secure value from disposals to sustain its five-year progressive dividend plan. Accordingly, it reaffirmed its commitment to declare a fiscal 2021 dividend of 80 pence plus RPI inflation--expected at 1.5%.
--CORONAVIRUS IMPACT AND OUTLOOK: The U.K. power company reported a coronavirus hit of GBP51.9 million for fiscal 2020, and estimated a hit to operating profit of between GBP150 million and GBP250 million before mitigation for fiscal 2021. SSE said it is too early to predict the full impact of the pandemic and didn't provide guidance for the current financial year, but mentioned virus-driven challenges such as lower wholesale and retail demand, excessive electricity hedges with negative valuations, and higher bad debt.
--CAPEX: As part of its plan to sustain dividends, SSE is aiming to slash cash outflows by GBP250 million this year--mainly by cutting capital expenditure. The group plans to invest GBP7.5 billion in the five years to fiscal 2025, or GBP1.5 billion a year, which includes the GBP580 million Viking wind farm.
Write to Jaime Llinares Taboada at firstname.lastname@example.org; @JaimeLlinaresT