British Energy Earnings Fall, But Beat Expectations

Nuclear power operator British Energy Group said on Wednesday core earnings fell last year, yet they came in ahead of analysts' expectations.

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Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) fell to 882 million pounds ($1.74 billion) from 1.22 billion a year earlier.

Analysts had expected EBITDA of just under 800 million pounds, according to Reuters Estimates.

The company, a takeover target for some of Europe's biggest utilities, said in a statement that while overall financial performance was disappointing, there had been a strong realized price in the final quarter.

The company had already said it would generate lower earnings, partly due to boiler closures.

"Despite disappointing financial performance, we have made good operational progress ... We are well positioned to manage our existing fleet to best advantage and look ahead to playing a pivotal role in the new build program," Chief Executive Bill Coley said in the statement.

Seen as key to the government's plans to build new nuclear power stations, the company has received a bid from France's EDF of just under 700 pence a share, and has said it is in talks with several other parties.

Shares in British Energy closed on Tuesday at 736.5 pence, valuing it at over 11 billion pounds.

Coley said the group's Sizewell B plant was operating at "world class" standards -- just one day after the plant had to shut down in an unplanned move.

The dividend was maintained at 13.6 pence a share.