Viridian profits up 11.5%

NORTHERN IRISH electricity company Viridian announced an 11.5 per cent rise in annual profits yesterday, despite severe winter storms which wrecked power supplies to parts of Ireland, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Viridian, formerly Northern Ireland Electricity, said pre-tax profit rose to pounds 86.6m in the year to end-March 1999, on a 4.4 per cent rise in turnover to pounds 512.2m. The pre-tax profit figure was more than pounds 3m above market expectations and the London-listed shares rose by more than 3 per cent, up 20.5p at 639.5. The shares were untraded in Dublin. Earnings per share, excluding the impact of the windfall tax on utilities last year, rose 20.8 per cent to 54.6p. The company plans an interim dividend of 18.64p per share, giving a total of 25.3p for the year, up 10 percent.