Seeboard rebate as profits rise 45%

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The Independent Online
SEEBOARD is to give domestic and other small customers a pounds 10 rebate after reporting a 45 per cent rise in pre-tax profits to pounds 98.4m and lifting its dividend by 16.9 per cent, the highest increase yet from a privatised regional electricity company.

The company said the increase would mean most customers would pay no more this year than last. Seeboard increased charges by 1.9 per cent on 1 April 1992 but said that around pounds 20m in extra cost savings had been identified since the rise was set.

'We want to share these benefits with customers,' George Squair, the chairman, said. The company raised its prices last year by 10.9 per cent.

The total dividend is 17.25p, with an 18.2 per cent increase in the final to 12.25p, compared with a notional 14.76p.

The increase in profits in the year to 31 March included pounds 8.8m clawed back from the previous year, when price increases, linked to forecast inflation, were set too low. Turnover rose by 11 per cent to pounds 1.157bn from pounds 1.047 in 1990/91.

Earnings per share increased by 47 per cent to 53.5p from pro forma 36.5p a year earlier.

The decision to award a rebate caused surprise in the City. The move is widely seen as an attempt to appease the regulator, Offer, which is beginning to review electricity price controls.

Yorkshire Electricity has also decided on a dividend increase at the top end of the range in the current reporting season. The total has gone up by 15 per cent to 17.76p including a final of 12.53p.

Yorkshire's pre-tax profits rose by 20.9 per cent to pounds 141.9m. Profits from distribution rose by 26 per cent to pounds 135.3m helped by price increases of 12 per cent, growth in volume of almost 1 per cent and a 2 per cent cut in operating costs.

Yorkshire has no under-recovered profits to carry forward on distribution and has reflected a pounds 10m over-recovery in wholesale electricity supply to larger customers last year in an average 1.6 per cent tariff increase this year.

Surplus cash generation reduced gearing to 15 per cent but the company said it was happy to see the ratio rise if suitable expansion opportunities arose.