February 24, 2009 / 7:49 AM / 9 years ago

UPDATE 2-Abengoa betting on U.S. for mid-term growth

 * Solar ops seen doubling cash flow contribution mid-term
 * Will analyse partial divestments, partnerships in 2009
 * Focus on growth without new capital in 2009 
 * Shares lose 6.93 pct to 10.48 euros  (Adds detail from conference call, share price, analyst comment)
 By Judy MacInnes
 MADRID, Feb 24 (Reuters) - Spain's Abengoa (ABG.MC) said on Tuesday it was betting on the U.S. market for medium-term growth, due to the positive environment for the renewables business as a result of the government's stimulus plans.
 Abengoa's U.S. operations' contribution to its revenues was seen nearly tripling to 30 percent mid-term from 2008, while its solar business was expected to become the key earnings driver, doubling its contribution to gross cash flow at the group.
 "Solar energy is the next big thing in renewables ... costs are decreasing steadily and regulation is in place in many countries," one executive said in a 2008 results presentation.
 "The outlook is very positive (for the U.S. market) as a result of the Obama government's stimulus plan. I see this as something new we can count on for developing projects in the future," he said.
 Abengoa's bioenergy business would also fuel earnings growth, particularly in the U.S. and Brazilian markets, where new capacity had come on stream.
 The company met forecasts with a 17 percent rise in 2008 net profit to 140.4 million euros ($179 million) from a year ago.
 Reuters survey of six analysts had forecast a profit of 137.6 million euros.
 Net revenues rose 17 percent to 3.11 billion euros, its order book reached a record 2.64 billion euros at end-December.
 Net debt stood at 486.4 million euros at end-2008, up from 234.3 million a year earlier.    
 Management said the financial priorities for 2009 included cutting to minimum non-committed or non-funded capex and focusing on its cost cutting plan.
 The company said it would also continue to analyse potential partial divestments and partnerships, but management declined to comment on the status of talks to sell its Nasdaq-listed IT arm Telvent TLVT.O.
 Last week, Spanish IT specialist Indra (IDR.MC) said it was in talks to buy Telvent, but that no agreement had been reached.
 At 1406 GMT, Abengoa shares lost 6.84 percent to 10.49, while the IBEX35 index .IBEX fell 1.03 percent.
 "The results were broadly in line and the conference call seems overall positive. But in a market such as we are seeing these days, with low volumes, the fluctuations in share prices are very sharp and not necessarily related to anything fundamental," a Madrid-based analyst said.
 "In general a mixed set of results, with sales and EBITDA below our estimates," ESR analysts said.
(Reporting by Tracy Rucinski; Editing by Paul Day and Rupert Winchester)  ($1 = 0.7848 euro)  

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