3 de febrero de 2016 / 11:54 / hace 2 años

UPDATE 1-Spain's Gas Natural cautious on dividend upgrade, shares drop

* Strategic plan now due Q2

* CEO says no dividend decision yet

* Annual core profit up 8.6 percent, below forecasts (Recasts, adds dividend and strategic plan comments)

MADRID, Feb 3 (Reuters) - Any rise in Gas Natural’s dividend will hinge on a strategic plan now due in the second quarter and on commodity prices, the Spanish utility said on Wednesday.

Gas Natural said last May it was open to increasing its payout to shareholders as part of a 2016-2018 strategy in planned to announce in the first quarter of this year.

It has postponed that until the April-June quarter it said, sending its shares down 5 percent.

They stood down 3 percent at 17.27 euros as of 1100 GMT.

Chief Executive Officer Rafael Villaseca said the Barcelona-based company was generating enough cash to maintain its current dividend payout but that no decision had yet been taken regarding payouts over the next two years.

“We have advanced in the (strategic) plan but we will take our time to see if we have more visibility on what commodity prices will do,” he told analysts on a conference call.

Gas Natural on Wednesday reported its annual core profit rose by 8.6 percent to 5.26 billion euros ($5.75 billion), mainly driven by Chilean unit CGE and just short of analysts’ expectations.

Its full-year net profit rose by 2.7 percent to 1.50 billion euros, beating forecasts.

$1 = 0.9154 euros Reporting by Angus Berwick and Jose Elías Rodríguez; editing by Julien Toyer and Jason Neely

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