18 de febrero de 2014 / 15:08 / hace 4 años

UPDATE 2-Spain's Gas Natural sees further hit from energy reform

* Gas Natural 2013 core profit steady at 5.1 billion euros

* Sees 600 million euro EBITDA hit from energy reforms in 2014

* Enagas 2013 net profit up 6.5 percent but cuts 2014 target (Adds impact of energy reforms, Enagas results)

By Tracy Rucinski and Andrés González

MADRID, Feb 18 (Reuters) - Spanish utility Gas Natural Fenosa said government energy reforms would wipe 600 million euros ($822 million) off its operating profit this year after a 455 million euro hit left it with flat earnings for 2013.

A series of government reforms including a power generation tax aimed at curbing a multi-billion-euro electricity tariff deficit have been a blow to Spain’s utilities, which are also suffering from falling demand in a sluggish economy.

But gains in Gas Natural’s Latin American and Italian gas businesses helped offset the loss from the reforms last year.

Barcelona-based Gas Natural’s full-year earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) rose 0.1 percent to 5.1 billion euros, it said on Tuesday, versus 5.0 billion forecast in a Reuters poll of analysts.

Chief Executive Rafael Villaseca said the figure was steady year-on-year thanks to strength abroad.

EBITDA was driven by a 2.2 percent rise in the utility’s international operations, which accounted for 44 percent of the total. That included a 7.2 percent rise in its Latin American gas distribution arm and a 10.8 percent rise in Italy.

These divisions helped compensate for heavy declines in Egypt, where its Damietta gas plant has been halted for more than a year, and a drop of 12.7 percent in its Spanish electricity division.

Net profit rose 0.3 percent to 1.45 billion euros in 2013, while net debt totalled 14.64 billion euros, down from 15.14 billion euros at end-June.

Its shares were down 1.4 percent at 18.42 euros at 1415 GMT, reversing opening gains, while Spain’s blue-chip Ibex index was down 0.85 percent.

GAS REFORM

After tackling the electricity tariff deficit, created after years of a mismatch in regulated tariffs and costs, the government has said it will tackle a small deficit in the domestic gas sector this year.

Antonio Llarden, chairman of Spanish gas grid operator Enagas which also published 2013 results on Tuesday, said accumulated debt owed to the gas sector was an estimated 320 million euros in 2013.

That is far below the 30 billion euros of debt plaguing the electricity sector.

Analysts expect the government to address the gas deficit by raising tariffs for consumers and cutting regulated revenues paid to Enagas and Gas Natural for their gas transport, regasification and storage businesses.

Executives from both Enagas and Gas Natural said they believed the gas deficit could be managed with relatively painless measures for both consumers and companies.

Net profit rose 6.2 percent to 403 million euros in 2013 from a year earlier, above the company’s own target for 5.5 percent growth.

Enagas said it was targeting net profit growth of 2.4 percent for 2014, less than the average 4 percent annual growth it had previously forecast between 2013 and 2015 due to changes in the way it accounts for stakes in certain assets.

Enagas, whose shareholders mostly include foreign investors, said it would maintain the percentage of earnings it pays in dividends at 75 percent in 2014. ($1 = 0.7298 euros) (Editing by Jason Neely and Jane Baird)

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