May 19, 2011 / 6:44 AM / 7 years ago

National Grid year profit up, outlook positive

LONDON (Reuters) - National Grid (NG.L), the country’s biggest energy distributor, said investment in its home market and ongoing U.S. restructuring meant the outlook was positive, when meeting forecasts with a 25 percent jump in year profit.

National Grid also said on Thursday the process of finding a new chairman was well under way. Management declined to comment on reports that former BP (BP.L) chief executive John Browne was in the running, on a call with reporters.

Adjusted pretax profit rose 25 percent to 2.5 billion pounds in the year to end-March, in line with a Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S poll. Earnings per share of 51.70 pence compared with a forecast for 49.24 pence.

Shares in the gas and electricity transmission company were up 1.7 percent at 624 pence at 10 a.m., to be among the top gainers on the blue-chip FTSE index .FTSE.

National Grid said a number of timing differences, including collection of revenue owed to regulated businesses from previous years and over-recovery of revenue, boosted profit in 2011, adding 5 pence to earnings per share.

“We have a positive outlook for 2011/12 and expect to deliver another year of good operating performance,” the company said, “although comparative performance will be impacted by the timing differences that benefited 2010/11.”

    Investec analyst Angelos Anastasiou said while National Grid was generally upbeat, given the timing differences he forecast 2011/12 earnings per share to fall to 51.10 pence.

    In January, National Grid unveiled plans to cut 7 percent of its direct workforce in the United States, for annual cost savings of about $200 million (123 million pounds).

    “If successful, they would only just begin to move the U.S. business closer to a reasonable return,” Anastasiou said.

    Editing by Lorraine Turner; Editing by Dan Lalor

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