EDF Cuts Nuclear Output Target as Profit Seen Steady in 2013

Nov. 13 (Bloomberg) -- Electricite de France SA, the biggest operator of nuclear reactors, cut its annual target for French atomic-energy output for the second time this year and said profit may be little changed in 2013.

Nuclear production in France will be about 410 terawatt-hours in 2012, the Paris-based company said today in a statement, revising its previous 415 terawatt-hour forecast. Output fell 6.2 percent to 295 terawatt-hours in the first nine months of the year from a year earlier.

EDF has extended maintenance halts and safety inspections at plants after the regulator, the Autorite de Surete Nucleaire, demanded more stringent checks and upgrades in the wake of the Fukushima disaster in Japan last year. The utility’s aging generators have also undergone separate halts for in-depth inspections that are required every decade.

Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization may be “stable” next year, with growth returning in 2014, EDF said in the statement. That compares with a previous “medium-term” target of Ebitda growth of 4 percent to 6 percent on average a year through 2015.

The utility’s forecast for next year is based on Ebitda of 15.8 billion euros ($20 billion) to 16.1 billion euros for this year, Chief Financial Officer Thomas Piquemal said today on a conference call. “Whether we reach the 2015 targets in 2015 or one or two years later remains to be confirmed,” he said, citing a weakening economy.

Dividends, Debt

EDF reiterated targets for Ebitda growth of 4 percent to 6 percent in 2012, and an increase in net income excluding non-recurring items of 5 percent to 10 percent. Dividends will be “at least stable” this year, while debt will drop below 2.5 times Ebitda through 2015, the company said.

The state-controlled utility has recorded 1,015 extensions to reactor shutdowns this year, compared with 601 last year, it said today in a presentation.

That’s in part a result of training new employees as well as a strike at one supplier to the Cruas plant, Dominique Miniere, head of nuclear production in France, said on the call.

EDF’s 58 reactors in France generate about three-quarters of the country’s power, a higher share than any other nation.

In the U.K., EDF said nuclear output may be higher this year than last. The utility reiterated a plan to make a final investment decision on its Hinkley Point project in southwest England by the end of the year.

EDF has accumulated a deficit from paying for renewable-energy subsidies in France which will reach 5 billion euros by the end of the year and more in 2013, Piquemal said. The company is in talks with the government on erasing the shortfall by 2017, he said.

Sales in the first nine months of the year rose 6.6 percent to 52 billion euros, the Paris-based company said in today’s statement.

To contact the reporter on this story: Tara Patel in Paris at tpatel2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Will Kennedy at wkennedy3@bloomberg.net