MILAN Italy's biggest utility Enel (ENEI.MI) confirmed its business plan targets on Thursday after core earnings in 2016 beat company guidance, lifted by firmer margins in Latin America, Italy and Spain.
In preliminary results, Enel said ordinary earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) were 15.2 billion euros (13 billion pounds), above a target of 15 billion euros given in November.
"The solid results attained in 2016 also allow us to confirm our group plan targets," CEO Francesco Starace said.
Enel, which controls Spanish utility Endesa (ELE.MC), is looking to grow core earnings by an average of around 5 percent per year to reach 17.2 billion euros in 2019.
Net debt at the end of 2016 was 37.6 billion euros, below a target of 37.2 billion euros due to exchange rate variations in the final months of 2016.
Enel, Europe's biggest utility in terms of market value after it bought back green unit Enel Green Power last year, said revenue in the year fell 6.7 percent, partly because of lower power sales in mature markets and less generated electricity.
Utilities across Europe are reshaping business models to cope with falling margins on traditional generation business.
Under the helm of Starace, state-controlled Enel has been focusing on grids and renewable energy to boost growth, installing smart meters to prepare for a digital era when home appliances will be hooked up to the Internet.
(Reporting by Stephen Jewkes; editing by Agnieszka Flak)