OSLO (Reuters) - Swedish state-owned utility Vattenfall reported rising earnings in the first quarter on Thursday as it benefited from the “Beast from the East” cold snap and added new customers, especially in Germany.
Operating profit before items affecting comparability rose to 9.4 billion Swedish crowns (785 million pounds) from 8.4 billion a year ago, a rise of 12 percent, while net sales increased 11 percent to 44 billion crowns over the same period.
“The sales activities showed strong earnings during the first quarter. This was partly driven by weather effects, but customer growth also continued to make a positive contribution, especially in Germany,” CEO Magnus Hall said in a statement.
A Siberian weather system forecasters dubbed the “Beast from the East” brought snow, strong winds and the coldest temperatures for years to many regions across Europe in late February and early March.
Building more wind farms also contributed to generating more revenues and helped offset declining results in Vattenfall’s heat business unit.
Hall later told Reuters Vattenfall may look at some “low-scale” mergers and acquisition deals, but its main priorities were completing the building of new wind farms and increasing the number of its customers.
The firm was also working with Swedish authorities to try to build a repository for nuclear waste designed to store up to 12,000 tonnes of spent fuel from Sweden’s nuclear plants, he said.
Vattenfall operates seven reactors in the Nordic country.
“We are convinced we have found a good solution, expediting this matter must be prioritised to prevent the process from becoming drawn-out and costly,” said Hall.
He added that Vattenfall had incurred costs for the project, without saying how much.
In Germany, Vattenfall is at odds with authorities over a claim of 4.7 billion euros when the firm was forced to halt nuclear production in the country in the wake of the 2010 Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan.
“The arbitration court said they will do no more negotiations or procedures,” said Hall. “I really hope the decision will come this year.”
Reporting by Lefteris Karagiannopoulos, editing by Gwladys Fouche and Adrian Croft