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TrustPower weathers bad winter

By Phil Boeyen, ShareChat Business News Editor

Monday 19th November 2001

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Tauranga-based energy company TrustPower (NZSE: TPW) says it's returning to profitability after a winter in which it lost $12.2 million.

The loss for the six months ended September compares with last year's interim profit of $16.87 million. Sales at $308.87 million were $54 million higher than previously.

Despite the loss the company says that, given trading conditions are returning to normal, it will pay out an interim dividend of 6 cents per share.

Chairman, Harold Titter, says the company was caught during the 1 in 70 year winter drought with having to pay high wholesale prices for power while its own generation ran 14% below average.

"Hydro inflows in the North Island have returned to normal while those in the South Island continue to be below average, however they have improved since winter. The company is therefore returning to normal profitability.

"The directors continue to expect the company will incur a small after tax loss for the full year ended 31 March 2002 but caution that New Zealand's lake storage levels remain low (57% of average) and further volatile high electricity spot prices cannot be ruled out."

Mr Titter says TrustPower is currently investigating new opportunities in New Zealand to supplement existing hydro and wind power generation schemes as well as opportunities in Australia to diversify its generation investment portfolio.

He adds that despite the interim loss the company has a strong balance sheet, excellent assets, and a "very sound future".

The dry, winter conditions had a varying impact on listed energy companies, with Natural Gas Corporation (NZSE: NCH) taking a huge loss as it wrote down and sold its electricity retail business, On Energy.

However net generator Contact (NZSE: CEN) benefited from the conditions to post a 35% increase in full-year profit to $130.7 million.

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