National Grid Profit Declines 7% on Asset-Financing Costs

National Grid Plc, the operator of energy networks in Britain and North America, said first-half profit dropped 7 percent as financing costs rose.

Pretax profit fell to 979 million pounds ($1.58 billion) in the six months through September from 1.05 billion pounds a year earlier, the London-based company said today in a statement. Operating profit slipped 1 percent to 1.57 billion pounds.

The decline reflects the “temporary additional cost of pre-financing asset growth at attractive interest rates,” National Grid said. “We continue to invest efficiently in essential regulated assets on both sides of the Atlantic.”

The company has raised investment in power transmission and gas distribution in the U.S. while increasing spending on U.K. networks to accommodate more generation from low-carbon sources such as wind farms. It will spend about 3.5 billion pounds this fiscal year, “slightly” lower than its previous forecast, to drive regulated-asset growth of about 6 percent, it said.

National Grid dropped as much as 1.9 percent in London trading, the biggest intraday decline in eight weeks. The stock was down 0.3 percent at 765.5 pence as of 8:15 a.m. local time.

The company’s U.K. businesses, in their first year of new price controls, are on schedule to deliver “strong returns,” Chief Executive Officer Steve Holliday said in the statement. National Grid expects net debt to increase by about 1 billion pounds this fiscal year from last March, excluding the effect of exchange rates.

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