February 28, 2017 / 6:07 PM / 9 months ago

UPDATE 1-Portugal's EDP Renovaveis forecasts pick-up in earnings growth

* Shares recover after early fall

* Sees EBITDA up 10 pct this year, cash flow up 10-15 pct (Adds view of U.S. market under Trump administration)

By Andrei Khalip and Daniel Alvarenga

LISBON, Feb 28 (Reuters) - Portuguese windpower company EDP Renovaveis(EDPR) expects pretax earnings growth to accelerate to 10 percent this year, it said on Tuesday after reporting weaker than expected 3 percent growth for 2016.

The world’s fourth-largest wind-generated electricity producer attributed its forecast to increased capacity and technical innovation and expectation that its largest single market, the United States, will remain strong under President Donald Trump’s administration.

However, it forecast the average selling price to slip again to about 58 euros per megawatt-hour from 2016’s 61 euros.

CEO Joao Manso Neto said in a conference call that “there are still very good conditions to supply aeolic and solar resources at a low price” in the United States.

“The renewables are ... clearly pro-growth, pro-jobs, an incentive to the local economy,” he said, playing down concerns that the Trump administration could enfeeble green energy.

“The US is going to continue to be a very solid market and we continue to see it as our main market.”

The company, majority owned by EDP-Energias de Portugal, the country’s largest industrial company, also said that a change in its asset depreciation schedule to 30 years from 25 years will boost its bottom line by between 65 million euros ($69 million) and 75 million euros from this year.

EDPR posted a 66 percent drop in 2016 net profit to 56 million euros on below-average wind load in the final quarter of the year, lower power prices and one-offs.

Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) rose 3 percent to 1.17 billion euros, slightly below expectations.

It now expects EBITDA to grow by about 10 percent in 2017, it said while reiterating its previous longer-term EBITDA growth forecast of 8 percent a year for 2015-2020.

EDPR shares, which fell almost 2 percent after the results, recovered after on the latest guidance and comments to close with a 0.3 percent gain at 6.21 euros.

Analysts see cash-flow generation as a key strength at EDPR, which is also constantly expanding capacity.

Retained cash flow rose 13 percent last year to 698 million euros and this year EDPR projects an increase of between 10 percent and 15 percent, with the number expected to hit 900 million euros by 2020. ($1 = 0.9430 euros)

Editing by Keith Weir and David Goodman

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
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