February 8, 2017 / 8:14 AM / a year ago

Vestas Q4 in line with expectations; says 2017 sales could fall

COPENHAGEN, Feb 8 (Reuters) - Wind turbine maker Vestas Wind Systems on Wednesday posted fourth-quarter operating profit in line with expectations but said revenue this year could fall from 2016’s record level.

The Danish company said its board of directors would recommend a dividend payout of 9.71 Danish crowns per share, compared with 6.82 crowns last year.

“I am extremely pleased with Vestas’ 2016 performance, delivering a record year on revenue, EBIT margin, net profit, free cash flow, order intake, and combined order backlog,” Chief Executive Anders Runevad said in a statement.

Vestas said it expects 2017 sales of between 9.25 billion and 10.25 billion euros, compared with 10.24 billion in 2016.

Vestas is set to lose its status as the world’s biggest wind turbine maker as Germany’s Siemens and Spain’s Gamesa have agreed to combine their assets in the sector.

The company delivered 2,544 megawatts of wind turbine capacity in the fourth quarter, up from 2,150 MW a year earlier.

Operating profit before special items rose 25 percent in the fourth quarter from a year earlier to 504 million euros, bang in line with the figure forecast in a Reuters poll of analysts.

Vestas and its rivals are benefiting from a new focus on renewables, encouraged by the Paris Agreement on climate change in Dec. 2015 and a five-year extension of a key U.S. Production Tax Credit.

Vestas’ share price came under pressure after it warned in November of a slowdown in the U.S. market in 2017, coupled with the election win by Donald Trump, who had expressed support for conventional fossil fuels. (Reporting by Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen; Editing by Keith Weir)

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