July 27, 2017 / 7:06 AM / 3 years ago

UPDATE 1-Water shortage saps Verbund profit as hydropower hit

(Adds sales, details, background)

VIENNA, July 27 (Reuters) - Austrian energy group Verbund said its second-quarter core profit fell 20 percent, more than expected, mainly due to low water supply, which led to a fall in hydropower, and lower earnings in its grid unit.

Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) fell to 188.4 million euros ($220.97 million) in the three months through June, Verbund said on Thursday.

Analysts polled by Reuters had expected EBITDA of 200 million euros.

Verbund, which specialises in hydropower and wants to become an exclusively green provider of electricity, said water supply in the first half of 2017 was 11 percent below the long term average.

The grid unit’s lower earnings were partly due to positive one-time effects in last year’s period.

Second-quarter sales reached 666 million euros, beating analyst expectations of 629 million.

To deal with low power prices and regulatory challenges, Verbund is expanding into new business areas and working on modernizing its infrastructure. In June, it launched a digital platform for municipal utilities, industrial customers and local suppliers of wind and solar power to make the trading and sales processes more transparent.

The majority state-owned group confirmed it expected net profit to fall to 300 million euros this year. (Reporting by Kirsti Knolle; editing by Jason Neely and Alexander Smith)

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