UPDATE 3-Drax full-year EBITDA beats consensus

Tue Mar 3, 2009 4:39am EST

* EBITDA 454 mln stg vs consensus 447.8 mln stg

* Sees 09 dark green spreads narrower than 08

* Final dividend 38.3 p/shr

* Says confident of being able to refinance debt

* Shares up 0.9 pct at 0930 GMT (Adds share price, comments from conference call)

LONDON, March 3 (Reuters) - British power station operator Drax (DRX.L) said full-year core earnings beat consensus, driven by strong trading and operating performance, although this was partially offset by a narrowing of its margins.

The group, which runs the Drax coal-fired power station in northern England, on Tuesday reported earnings before interest tax depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) for the year of 454 million pounds ($640.6 million), compared with a mean of 447.8 million forecast by 10 analysts polled by Reuters, and down from 506 million pounds last time.

In the period it booked revenues up 41 percent to 1.8 billion pounds, and proposed a final dividend of 38.3 pence per share, up from 17.7 pence last time.

It predicted that dark green spreads for 2009 -- the difference between the wholesale price achieved for power and the coal and carbon dioxide costs incurred in generating it -- would be narrower than 2008.

It said it has made good progress in its strategy of developing 900MW of dedicated biomass-burning power generation capacity, and plans to burn 3.9 million tonnes of biomass products a year, when boilers are up and running.

The company, which was Britain's biggest carbon emitter in 2007, added that it was aggressively pursuing its carbon abatement policy.

For the year it has cut carbon emissions per unit of electricity by 3 percent compared to 2006 emissions rates -- the equivalent to taking about 195,000 cars off the road.

However overall carbon dioxide emissions rose slightly in 2008, to 22.3 million tonnes from 22.2 million tonnes in 2007, due to increased production.

The company also said it was confident of being able to refinance its current debt, which matures in December 2010 and stood at 235 million pounds at the year end.

Shares were up 0.9 percent by 0930 GMT. Shares in the company have fallen by about 13 percent in the past year, outperforming the FTSE 100 index which has fallen by about 38 percent in the same period.

(Reporting by Ben Deighton; Editing by Simon Jessop and Rupert Winchester)

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