* Now says 2012 EBITDA, op. result may surpass 2011 level
* Also keeps 2013 outlook in contrast with E.ON forecast cut
* Shares down 0.4 percent, analyst remains cautious
(Recasts, adds details, background)
By Christoph Steitz and Vera Eckert
FRANKFURT, Nov 14 Germany's No.2 utility RWE
gave a more optimistic outlook for 2012 earnings after
halving losses at its energy trading unit by renegotiating gas
Gas contracts have been a major problem for European
utilities which agreed long-term deals with companies such as
Gazprom and Statoil when prices were high,
having to sell to retail customers at lower tariffs.
RWE has not yet resolved contract talks with Gazprom but has
managed to renegotiate others which had been a burden in 2011.
The group said on Wednesday it had cut the loss at its
trading and midstream unit to 403 million euros ($512.25
million) in January through September 2012 compared with a 842
million euro loss a year earlier.
"Our performance over the first three quarters of the
current financial year has been quite good," Chief Executive
Peter Terium said.
As a result, RWE said 2012 earnings before interest, tax,
depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) may now exceed the 8.46
billion euros achieved last year, compared with previous
guidance for stable earnings.
"The quality of the raised outlook shouldn't be
overestimated given that improved -- but naturally volatile --
trading results primarily triggered the upgrade," said Equinet
analyst Michael Schaefer.
At 1237 GMT, shares in RWE were down 0.4 percent, in line
with Germany's benchmark DAX index.
CUTTING COSTS, ASSET SALES
RWE also stuck to its 2013 outlook, seeing EBITDA at about 9
billion euros, a sharp contrast to rival E.ON's
downgrading of its 2013 outlook on Tuesday which sent its shares
down 11.5 percent.
RWE cut its capital expenditure by 1 billion euros ($1.27
billion) in the first nine months of 2012, while the recent sale
of assets, including its stake in British nuclear joint venture
Horizon, has gained momentum.
"We will implement further cuts," Terium said, not being
more specific. Terium told Reuters in late October that RWE was
planning to cut more jobs than 10,400 already announced, out of
a total workforce of about 71,500.
Germany's top utilities aim to sell assets worth at least
23.5 billion euros due to weaker power demand and following
Germany's decision to exit nuclear power last year.
RWE plans to sell up to 7 billion euros worth of assets by
the end of 2013, more than one fifth of which has been
completed. E.ON has met most of its 15 billion euro sell-off
RWE also benefited in the first nine months of the year from
the availability of brown coal, which it mines itself nearby,
and the low cost of covering carbon-intensive power production
under the European carbon trading mechanism, because the cost of
emissions rights is down.
Prices for carbon permits have been trading between 6 and 9
euros a tonne CO2 for most of the year due to an
economic downturn which has reduced demand for permits from
industry and power companies.
(Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)