MILAN Enel (ENEI.MI), Italy's biggest utility, has confirmed its full-year guidance, saying emerging markets were helping offset weakness in its recession-hit home market that was expected to persist next year.
Enel, which owns 92 percent of Spanish utility Endesa (ELE.MC), is faced with falling power prices from weak demand in Italy and increasing competition from solar power generators.
It confirmed guidance for the full year thanks to growth in eastern European, Russia and Latin America.
Enel, Europe's most indebted utility, is targeting core earnings of 16.5 billion euros ($21 billion) for the year and net debt of 43 billion.
"The 16.5 billion euros is the minimum we expect," chief finance officer Luigi Ferraris said on a conference call.
Debt at the end of September was 46.45 billion euros.
To help lower debt Enel has tabled disposals and earlier this year cut its dividend payout policy and investments.
"We still have around 1 billion euros of asset sales. We are working on that," Ferraris said.
Europe's indebted utilities have faced higher costs to refinance debt this year as the euro zone crisis cranked up the cost, especially in peripheral Europe.
Moody's cut Enel's rating to Baa2 from Baa1 earlier this month to reflect increased challenges in its core markets of Italy and Spain.
Enel said earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) were 12.8 billion euros in the first nine months, compared with a forecast range of 12.3-12.4 billion provided by the company.
($1 = 0.7867 euro)
(Reporting By Stephen Jewkes; Editing by Dan Lalor)