* Nine-month EBITDA 3.8 bln euros, vs 3.8 bln forecast
* Nine-month net profit 1.1 bln euros, vs 1.1 bln forecast
* International gas offsets weak Spanish power generation
* To cut guidance after 2012 due to weak European economy
(Adds CEO comments on guidance)
MADRID, Nov 6 Spanish electricity and gas firm
Gas Natural Fenosa plans to cut earnings guidance and
focus on debt in its next strategic plan due to deteriorating
economic growth in Europe, its chief executive said on Tuesday.
Growing international exposure helped Gas Natural post an
8.1 percent rise in nine-month core profit to 3.8 billion euros
($4.9 billion), offsetting weakness in its Spanish electricity
business and putting it on track to meeting 2012 targets.
But uncertainty in Spain and the rest of Europe will weigh
when the company presents a new strategic plan in coming months,
CEO Rafael Villaseca said.
"After 2012 we expect lower growth than we had forecast in
our current strategy."
Gas Natural's 2010-2014 strategic plan had forecast core
profit of between 5.7 billion euros and 6.1 billion euros,
targets the company had already warned in April may be difficult
to meet due to regulatory uncertainty in the Spanish energy
The company will continue to focus on international
expansion and improving its financial situation, Villaseca said,
with net debt seen falling to between 15 billion and 16 billion
euros this year, down from 17.3 billion in 2011.
GROWING PRESENCE ABROAD
International markets now account for 42.7 percent of
earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation
(EBITDA), up from 36.3 percent at the same time last year.
Distribution of gas and electricity grew in Latin America
between January and September, while falling in Europe.
Gas was the most resilient part of the business in the
nine-month period, with earnings from gas distribution dropping
1.1 percent in Spain to 690 million euros, while EBITDA for the
electricity side of the business tumbled 13.1 percent to 465
Spain proposed a 6 percent levy on power generation in
September to slow a growing 24 billion euros tariff deficit
created by a previous government policy of making utilities sell
energy below cost price.
The tax was less harsh than feared and utilities were
expected to pass on the cost to customers, though firms will
still have to take losses.
Gas Natural said the new regulation "resulted in a reduction
in regulated revenues associated with distribution and
commercial management of access".
The company provides gas in several Latin American
countries, including Brazil, Colombia and Mexico. Earnings from
gas distribution in the region grew 3.5 percent to 477 million
Electricity also fared better abroad, with nine-month
earnings rising 26 percent to 278 million euros in Latin
Gas Natural also has a presence in European countries such
as Belgium, Italy and Portugal as well in African countries
including Angola, Kenya and South Africa.
Its shares, which have lost 9 percent so far this year, were
down 1.0 percent at 11.985 euros by 1122 GMT, underperforming a
0.4 percent rise on Spain's blue chip index.
(Reporting By Tracy Rucinski and Clare Kane; Editing by Dan
Lalor and Mike Nesbit)