April 25, 2019 / 6:49 AM / 8 months ago

UPDATE 2-Energy firm Iberdrola casts eye over Britain's ENW after strong Q1

* Raises guidance for FY net, dividend to high single digits

* CEO says analysing sale process of Electricity North West

* Spain, networks unit boost profits to double-digit rate

* Shares rise around 2 percent, outperforming Spain’s Ibex (Add detail, share price, comments from analysts and CEO)

By Jose Elías Rodríguez

MADRID, April 25 (Reuters) - Leading wind energy producer Iberdrola raised its 2019 guidance for net profit and dividend growth on Thursday, and said it might bid for UK distribution network operator Electricity North West (ENW).

Chairman and CEO Ignacio Galan said Iberdrola accessed the ENW data room a few days ago and was analysing the auction process. “We have not decided yet whether we will make a bid,” he told analysts during a conference call.

ENW owners JPMorgan and Colonial First States have said the sale could fetch 2 billion pounds ($2.57 billion), British media including Sky News have reported. According to an article on Wednesday in trade magazine Utility Week, five contenders remain in the running to buy it.

ENW has around five million customers and covers a region stretching from Manchester to the Lake District, according to its website.

Spain’s biggest utility already owns a network covering more than 100,000 kilometres in Britain and a gas and power client portfolio of over 5.5 million clients.

It said a buoyant first quarter performance was led by a strong showing at its network businesses.

That enabled it to raise its full-year net profit and dividend percentage growth target from the mid- to the high single-digits, it said

First quarter net profit at Iberdrola, which supplies energy to more than 30 million people globally, rose 15 percent to 964 million euros ($1.08 billion) in the first quarter.

Core profit increased 12 percent to 2.6 billion euros thanks to improved profit margins in its home market and strong growth in its Brazilian and U.S. grid divisions after tariff revisions.

Iberdrola said over 11 percent of core profit came from the networks of Neoenergia, the Brazilian unit it is trying to float on the Sao Paulo market this year.

Iberdrola’s shares rose over 2 percent on Thursday, outperforming the broader Spanish stock market. Bernstein analysts said in a note to clients that the company’s networks EBITDA beat its expectations by 10 percent.

$1 = 0.7768 pounds Reporting by Jose Elias Rodriguez; editing by John Stonestreet

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