SSE shares up as it vows to treble renewable output

Shares of Perth-based energy and networks giant SSE plc rose almost 5% on Wednesday after it published half-year results showing progress on its £7.5 billion investment plan and a vow to “treble its renewable output by 2030.”

SSE shares rose almost 5% to about £14.10 to give the Perth firm a current stock market value of around £14.7 billion.

Adjusted profit before tax for the six months ended September 30 was down 26% to £193.9 million, with reported profit before tax up 544% to £829.5 million, helped by disposals.

SSE declared an interim dividend of 24.4p per share and an intention to recommend a full-year dividend of 80p per share plus RPI inflation and continue to target RPI increases in the two subsequent years.

SSE said it was “making significant progress” on its £7.5 billion investment plan — with early construction work under way and key contracts awarded at the Seagreen and Viking projects and financial close on the first two phases of the world’s largest offshore wind farm at Dogger Bank expected in the coming days.

The group said it continues to develop a pipeline of renewables projects that would see it treble its renewable output by 2030 “with a clear aspiration to reach a run rate of at least 1GW of new assets a year during the second half of this decade.”

In its financial outlook for 2020-21 and beyond, SSE said it expects a full-year coronavirus impact on operating profit towards the middle of the £150 million to £250 million range it set out in June.

Adjusted net debt is expected to be around £9.5 billion at March 2021.

Bernstein analyst Deepa Venkateswaran said SSE’s full-year outlook was better than expected — with adjusted earnings per share, including coronavirus impacts, forecast to be in the range of 75p-85p.

James Smith, fund manager, Premier Miton Global Renewables Trust plc, said: “While SSE’s results are relatively weak, with a 15% fall in adjusted operating profit largely attributable to Coronavirus, they are by their nature backward looking.

“Of real importance to investors will be the successful construction of SSE’s offshore wind farm developments, and the final determination of OFGEM’s on-going review into energy transmission, expected in December.

“With SSE investing £7.5 billion over the period to March 2025, the successful commissioning of their large-scale offshore renewable energy investments, plus their allowed returns on investment in regulated energy infrastructure, will be the key determinants of future value creation for shareholders.

“We believe it is important that OFGEM strikes a sensible balance in assessing the needs of consumers, shareholders, and the wider requirement to make progress toward a ‘net zero’ future.”

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