EDF Confirms 2015 Targets as Sales Rise on Dalkia, Currencies

Electricite de France SA, Europe’s biggest power generator, reiterated its 2015 financial targets after reporting a 7.8 percent increase in first-quarter sales.

Revenue rose to 22.9 billion euros ($26 billion) from 21.2 billion euros a year before after EDF took full control of the French operations of its Dalkia venture and on favorable foreign-exchange rates, the Paris-based company said. That’s in line with the average of four analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg. The gain was 1.8 percent on a like-for-like basis.

“Sales progress in the first quarter demonstrates the responsiveness and the efficient management of the nuclear facilities in France,” Chief Executive Officer Jean-Bernard Levy said in the statement Tuesday. “Due to weather conditions, the nuclear facilities were in higher demand.”

Levy is struggling to curb ballooning debt as the operator of 58 French reactors expects peak investment levels this year. EDF is also in talks about acquiring assets from loss-making reactor builder Areva SA.

Nuclear output in France rose 2.3 percent in the first four months of the year to 149.4 terawatt-hours, according to data on EDF’s website. The utility kept its target for the year of 410 to 415 terawatt-hours, down from 415.9 terawatt-hours in 2014.

Tests are continuing on the core vessel at a new reactor under development at Flamanville in Normandy at the request of France’s safety authority. Nuclear output in the U.K. in the four months rose 3 percent to 20.7 terawatt-hours.

EDF targets full-year growth in earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization of as much as 3 percent and has committed to turning a negative cash flow of 4 billion euros last year into a positive one after dividend payouts by 2018.

Levy must rein in debt as the company funds investments of 55 billion euros through 2025. He has urged France to implement gradual tariff increases to help fund renewable-energy projects and the modernization of EDF’s aging nuclear-reactor fleet.

The state-controlled utility expects annual investments to peak this year at 13 billion euros, before declining to no more than 11 billion euros in 2018, it said.