20 Aug 2013

Contact Energy notches up increased profit

7:19 pm on 20 August 2013

Contact Energy has reported a rise in profit for its full year after it continued to reduce the cost of buying energy and worked hard at keeping retail customers.

After-tax profit rose 5% to $199 million in the 12 months to the end of June.

Contact Energy said there was more electricity than demand, which made the market highly competitive.

It said its investment in the flexibility of its generation portfolio, reducing its reliance on large volumes of contracted gas, had been beneficial and was reflected in the result.

When one-off items were stripped out, underlying profit rose 15% to $202 million.

Completion of the Te Mihi geothermal power station this year would provide it with additional lower-cost generation, the company said.

Customer numbers during the year fell 1% to 435,500, and retail sales dropped 3%.

Contact said customer turnover was intense, with the industry continuing to average 30,000 switches per month.

Meanwhile, commercial and industrial sales volumes increased 3% and company re-sign rates remained strong.

Contact, which generates about a quarter of New Zealand's electricity and is 51% owned by Origin Energy of Australia, declared a final dividend of 14 cents per share, up from 12 cents last year.

Chief executive Dennis Barnes told Kate Gudsell the company was focused on its new IT system going live later this year, and there were a number of reasons behind the increased profit.