March 26, 2009 / 7:23 AM / in 9 years

UPDATE 2-United Utilities sees meeting full-year hopes

* Group continues to benefit from robust financing position

* Regulated ops to deliver good underlying opg profit growth

* Sees good underlying profit growth in non-regulated ops

* Shares fall 2 pct

(Adds analyst comment, share price)

By Philip Waller

LONDON, March 26 (Reuters) - United Utilities expects full-year results to meet its expectations and has a robust financing position, the water group said on Thursday.

United Utilities, which provides water and waste water services to householders and businesses in north west England, also said it had headroom to cover its planned financing needs until mid-2011.

At 1040 GMT, shares in United Utilities had dipped 11 pence or 2.15 percent to 495.75 pence.

Broker Pali International said it was increasing its forecast for pretax profit in the current year to 510 million pounds from 502 million and expected slightly larger rises in future years.

Pali analyst Angelos Anastasiou said however the broker was continuing to advise investors to sell the shares.

“While UU is not expensive in absolute terms, it continues to look overvalued relative to its peer group,” Anastasiou said in a note.

United Utilities said it expected its regulated business to produce good underlying operating profit growth in the year to March 31, 2009, despite reduced water demand and cost pressures from power prices and bad debts.

“This profit growth is primarily a result of allowed price rises to help fund major investment in the company’s assets,” the group said in a trading statement.

United Utilities also said it was expecting good underlying operating profit growth in its non-regulated business compared with the previous year.

“The (non-regulated) business continues to benefit from a strong order book worth over 6 billion pounds in revenue, which provides long-term income streams for the group,” it said. (Editing by Simon Jessop and Hans Peters)

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