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FRANKFURT (Reuters) - German energy group Uniper (UN01.DE) on Tuesday said its operating earnings fell by 41 percent, less than anticipated by analysts, as cost cuts at its power plant division helped the group offset weakness at its hydroelectric plants.
The steep fall was also due to a one-off payment from Russia's Gazprom (GAZP.MM) as part of renegotiated gas supply contracts, which had inflated year-earlier results at the group that was spun off from E.ON (EONGn.DE) last year.
First-quarter adjusted earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) came in at 514 million euros ($561 million), Uniper said, higher than the 501 million average analyst forecast in a Reuters poll.
"The first quarter of 2017 laid a good foundation for the rest of the year and for us to meet our forecast," Chief Financial Officer Christopher Delbrueck said, adding the group still aimed for 0.9-1.2 billion euros in adjusted EBIT in 2017.
Shares in the group were indicated to open 0.8 percent higher in pre-market trade, at the top of Frankfurt's midcap index .MDAXI. Since its spin-off in September, Uniper shares have gained 57 percent.
Uniper, in which E.ON still holds a 46.65 percent stake, also said it expected to receive around 20 billion rubles ($342 million) fire insurance payment for its Russian Berezovskaya plant in the second quarter.
Reporting by Christoph Steitz; Editing by Maria Sheahan and Victoria Bryan