SSE shares up as it lifts full-year profit outlook

Perth-based energy giant SSE raised its full-year profit outlook on Wednesday, saying it expects to deliver adjusted earnings per share in the range of 116p to 120p.

In November, SSE had forecast that earnings would be at least in line with the consensus forecast of 116p.

Shares in SSE rose 14p to around £13.04 to give SSE a current stock market value of around £13 billion.

In a trading statement following the completion of the third quarter of its financial year on December 31, 2017, SSE confirmed that for 2017-18 SSE still expects to report an annual increase in full-year dividend that at least keeps pace with RPI inflation.

It said its capital investment programme for 2017-18 is now expected to be around £1.6 billion, lower than its previous estimate of £1.7 billion.

SSE also confirmed that the planned combination of SSE’s household energy supply and services business in Great Britain with npower to create a new independent energy supplier remained on course to be completed by the last quarter of 2018 or the first quarter of 2019.

SSE said its investment and capital expenditure is still expected to be around £6 billion over the four-year period to March 2020.

SSE said it lost 40,000 customer accounts during the three months to December 31 compared with the 50,000 it lost in the previous quarter.

It ended the latest quarter with 7.68 million customers.

SSE CEO Alistair Phillips-Davies said: “The energy sector continues to present a number of complex challenges to manage but, throughout this financial year, we have kept our focus on delivering the best possible service for our Networks and Retail customers and on delivering our programme of investment in the energy infrastructure on which all customers depend.

“All of this represents an encouraging year so far for SSE.

“The SSE group will evolve significantly between now and the end of the next financial year.

“There will be a greater focus on creating value from owning, operating and developing assets and infrastructure; and we will contribute to the creation of a new energy supply market model that combines the resources and experience of two established players with the focus and agility of an independent supplier.

“Throughout this period of evolution, and as a responsibly-minded business, we will be fully mindful of the critical job of delivering for customers and other stakeholders through day-to-day operations and longer-term investment.

“We will also be fully mindful of the central importance of remunerating shareholders’ investment through the payment of dividends, including an increase in the full-year dividend for 2017/18 that is at least in line with RPI inflation and targeting an annual increase of at least RPI inflation for 2018/19.”