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Iberdrola Net Falls, Beating Estimates on U.S., U.K. Growth

Iberdrola SA, Spain’s largest utility, said first-quarter profit beat analyst estimates as growth in the U.S. and U.K. offset declining income at home.

Net income fell 14 percent from a year earlier to 879 million euros ($1.1 billion), beating the 877-million-euro estimate of 10 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg, the company said in a statement. Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization fell 3.6 percent to 2.28 billion euros.

The Bilbao-based company is seeking to expand outside Spain, where government levies and a 4 percent decline in demand damped income, it said. Iberdrola Scottish Power said last week it would create 2,500 engineering jobs in the U.K. over the next decade as it boosts investment in transmission cables and substations. The U.S. unit, which includes a 5-year project to rebuild nearly 440 miles (708 kilometers) of transmission lines in Maine, reported 23 percent Ebitda growth.

“The main positive surprise is coming from the U.S.,” Banco BPI SA analysts said in a report. Overseas growth should be counterbalanced by losses from levies imposed by regulators in Spain, it said. Madrid-based BPI analyst Gonzalo Sanchez-Bordon maintains a buy rating with a price estimate of 5 euros.

The shares rose 1.8 percent to 4.05 euros at 11:50 a.m. in Madrid trading.

The company plans to reduce debt by about 2 billion euros through 2014 and maintain its 30 euro-cent dividend policy, it said in an earnings presentation.

The price of energy will be the main driver of the company’s investments, Chairman Ignacio Galan said on a conference call with analysts today. In October Galan said he planned to cut about 4 percent of the workforce and sell assets worth as much as 5 billion euros by 2014.

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