UPDATE 1-Warm weather hits GDF Q1 profit but targets confirmed

Mon Apr 28, 2014 9:12am EDT

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PARIS, April 28 (Reuters) - French gas and power group GDF Suez said on Monday its first-quarter core earnings fell due to very mild weather in Europe compared with a cold year-earlier period, but the company confirmed its financial targets for 2014.

Quarterly earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) fell 15.6 percent to 4.2 billion euros ($5.81 billion), while current operating income declined 14.8 percent to 3.1 billion and revenue fell 5.9 percent to 22.8 billion, GDF said.

The company confirmed its annual targets. In February, it forecast 2014 net recurring profit of 3.3-3.7 billion euros and EBITDA of 12.3-13.3 billion.

GDF then posted a 15 billion euro writedown on gas storage and gas power, which knocked it into a 9.74 billion 2013 net loss, from a 1.54 billion profit in 2012.

GDF attributed 545 million euros of the year-on-year decline in first-quarter EBITDA to warm weather in France and a tariff adjustment booked a year earlier.

It added that cost savings, continued expansion in renewable energy and fast-growing markets, and the commissioning of new assets and of new exploration and production fields boosted earnings. But lower power market prices in Europe weighed.

At the end of March, net debt stood at 26.7 billion euros, down 2.5 billion from the end of 2013.

The firm said its net debt-to-EBITDA ratio, at 2.18 times, was now far below its maximum target level of 2.5. At the end of March, GDF had liquidity of 18.5 billion, including 10.5 billion in cash.

GDF shares were 0.7 percent lower at 18.945 euros by 1308 GMT. The stock is up 11 percent this year. ($1 = 0.7227 Euros) (Reporting by Geert De Clercq; Editing by James Regan)

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