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National Grid profit falls as U.S. storm costs bite

National Grid profit falls as U.S. storm costs bite
FILE PHOTO: Workers paint an electricity pylon near Lymm, northern England February 18, 2015.REUTERS/Phil Noble   -   Copyright  Phil Noble(Reuters)
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(Reuters) – National Grid Plc, which runs Britain’s energy systems, on Thursday reported an 18% fall in its annual operating profit on costs related to storms in the United States, while it faces plans of re-nationalisation of energy utilities back home.

The company’s earnings have been hurt by a string of snow storms that lashed the U.S. East Coast last year at the time when it battles regulatory changes in its home market while pushing to streamline operations and invest more.

National Grid on Thursday said it expected to spend nearly 5 billion pounds in the current year in investments, nearly 500 million pounds more than in 2018/19 and forecast asset growth at the higher end of its 5-7% target range in the medium term.

Compounding worries, several UK media outlets reported this week that a leaked Labour Party document showed plans to re-nationalise the country’s energy networks at a price decided by Parliament.

“Looking ahead, we will continue to contribute to the important regulatory agenda in the UK and the US, to create value for shareholders, and play a central role in driving decarbonisation,” Chief Executive Officer John Pettigrew said in the earnings statement.

National Grid, which has operations in New York, Rhode Island and Massachusetts, all of which are along the U.S. East Coast, said operating profit for the 12 months ended March 31 fell to 2.87 billion pounds from 3.49 billion pounds a year earlier.

However, on an underlying basis which exclude the storm costs, operating profit was 2% lower.

U.S. operations account for over 60% of the company’s revenue, with UK revenue accounting for the rest.

(Reporting by Pushkala Aripaka and Muvija M in Bengaluru; Editing by Tomasz Janowski and Shounak Dasgupta)

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