June 17, 2020 / 7:43 AM / a month ago

UPDATE 1-Britain's SSE keeps dividend, sees coronavirus profits hit

(Updates throughout)

By Susanna Twidale

June 17 (Reuters) - British renewable power generator and network operator SSE Plc confirmed its full-year dividend and posted a better- than-expected annual pre-tax profit on Wednesday, but warned the coronavirus crisis would dent earnings for the current financial year.

The company turned its focus to renewable power generation and networks after selling its household energy supply and services arm to OVO Energy at the beginning of the year in a deal worth 500 million pounds ($628.40 million).

SSE’s adjusted profit before tax rose to 1.02 billion pounds for the 12 months ended March 31, beating analysts’ estimates of 959.3 million pounds.

Its shares rose more than 5% early on Wednesday.

SSE said it would stick with the planned full-year dividend of 80 pence per share for 2018/19, with the final 56p share payment to be made on September 18 2020.

“We have put in place a comprehensive plan to achieve the related objectives of sustaining the dividend payments which provides vital income for people’s pensions and savings,” Richard Gillingwater, SSE chairman, said in a statement.

More than 100 British companies, including retailer Marks and Spencer and broadcaster ITV, earlier this year postponed or ditched dividend payments to preserve cash because of the economic fallout from the novel coronavirus. .

SSE said it was too soon to predict accurately the full extent of the coronavirus hit to the business, but said it expected a negative impact of 150-250 million pounds in 2020/21, mainly because of lower energy demand.

SSE has a number of renewable projects in development and earlier this month sold a 51% stake in its Seagreen 1 British offshore wind farm project to oil major Total .

$1 = 0.7953 pounds Reporting By Susanna Twidale, additional reporting by Shanima A in Bengaluru; Editing by Rashmi Aich and Barbara Lewis

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