RWE to give 2014 outlook on Nov. 14, more cost cuts seen

Fri Sep 20, 2013 8:05am EDT

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FRANKFURT, Sept 20 (Reuters) - Germany's No. 2 utility RWE AG will give its outlook for 2014 alongside third-quarter results on Nov. 14, it said on Friday, with analysts expecting further cost cuts on top of the firm's decision on Thursday to reduce its dividend.

RWE shares dropped 3.6 percent on Friday, the second-biggest decline on Germany's blue-chip DAX index, after the company said late on Thursday that it planned to halve its 2013 dividend to 1 euro per share.

The firm is battling sluggish demand for energy in a struggling European economy, at a time when Germany is also embarking on a major shift towards renewable energy.

RWE said on Thursday it would also cut its dividend payout ratio to 40-50 percent of net profit for the coming years from a previous target of 50-60 percent, although it stuck with a 2013 earnings forecast unveiled in March.

JP Morgan analysts said RWE was likely to save less than 1.1 billion euros ($1.5 billion) over four years from the dividend changes, a small amount in the context of the firm's 35 billion euros of debt.

They expect more cost cuts could be announced in November.

Earlier this week, industry sources said RWE planned to axe 3,000 jobs and freeze pay for three years as part of an efficiency drive dubbed "Neo".

RWE declined to comment, while unions said on Thursday they would fight such plans.

The sources said the plans could deliver a further 300 million euros of savings on top of the 500 million ascribed to Neo in July.

Germany, Europe's largest economy, has seen its energy sector slide into crisis following its decision to abandon nuclear power by 2022, as a massive expansion of green energy has dealt a heavy blow to traditional utilities, forcing them to close plants generating thousands of megawatts.

National elections on Sept. 22 are expected to help usher in energy reforms to benefit depressed conventional power generation prices that have suffered from generous incentives paid to rival renewable energy firms.

($1 = 0.7384 euros) (Reporting by Matthias Inverardi, Writing by Vera Eckert,; Editing by Mark Potter)

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