* 2012 EBITDA 298 mln stg vs 334 mln a year ago
* Sees first biomass unit transformation in April
LONDON Feb 19 Britain's coal-fired power
producer Drax reported a 10 percent dip in full-year
earnings, in line with expectations, as it gears up to transfer
to biomass production and higher operating costs take their
Drax, the owner of one of Europe's largest coal-fired power
stations, said earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation,
and amortization (EBITDA) fell to 298 million pounds ($461.3
million) for the year ended Dec. 31 from 334 million a year ago.
Market expectations ranged between 284.2 million and 314.2
million pounds, with the average at 292.9 million, according to
a Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S poll of 13 analysts.
Drax secured financing last year which will enable it to
push forward with its biomass investment plans.
"With government support and our financing secured, both in
the second half of 2012, we are on track to convert our first
generating unit fully to biomass in April of this year, with the
second to follow in 2014," said Chief Executive Dorothy Thompson
in a statement on Tuesday.
Drax is converting to biomass fuel as rising coal prices
squeeze its profits and the British government offers subsidies
to raise the amount of energy generated from renewable sources
to hit EU targets of 15 percent by 2020.
Thompson said she is confident the group will deliver
attractive returns for shareholders in spite of the "significant
capital" which will be invested over the next two years and
EBITDA likely to be adversely impacted by the increasing costs
Shares in Drax closed at 604.5 pence on Monday, valuing the
group at 2.4 billion pounds.