NOTIFICATION OF CLOSE PERIOD
SSE plc will enter its close period on Monday 1 October, prior to the publication on Wednesday 9 November of its financial results for the first six months of the 2016/17 financial year.
SSE focuses on results for the financial year as a whole because results for six month periods can be variable and subject to the impact of shorter-term issues, particularly in the Wholesale and Retail businesses. For 2016/17 as a whole, SSE continues to expect a return to growth and adjusted EPS of at least 120 pence; for the first six months it is expecting adjusted EPS to be at least 33 pence. SSE also remains on course to meet its principal financial objective for 2016/17, which is to deliver an increase in the full-year dividend that will be at least equal to RPI inflation, and also continues to target dividend growth that at least keeps pace with RPI in subsequent years.
The operating profit from Networks is expected to increase slightly in the first six months of 2016/17. Wholesale is expected to be negatively impacted by the significantly lower output of electricity from renewable sources than in the same period in 2015; this is expected, however, to be partly offset by improvements in the economics of thermal generation. In Retail, results are expected to be negatively affected by increasing non-energy costs; the lower number of SSE energy supply customers compared with the same period in 2015 and lower expected operating profits in Enterprise.
In addition, the schedule for SSE's hybrid bond interest payments has changed to reflect the most recently issued hybrid bonds, with the result that while payments will be lower for 2016/17 as a whole, they will be higher in the first half of the financial year than was the case in previous years. This will, therefore, have an impact on adjusted earnings per share for the first six months.
Since the publication of its trading statement on 21 July 2016, SSE has also made progress on the Stronelairg onshore wind farm development (c. 225MW), following the ruling in favour of the project from the Court of Session in July. The project would be expected to secure accreditation under the Renewables Obligation and a final investment decision will be taken in this calendar year. SSE has also made a submission to the UK government on energy-related issues arising from the result of the EU referendum in June 2016 (see www.sse.com).
Progress also continues on the possible sale of up to one third of SSE's 50% stake in SGN. Should a sale be completed, SSE would expect to use the proceeds to return value to shareholders or to invest to create value for shareholders.
Gregor Alexander, Finance Director, SSE, said:
"Our focus is on safe and efficient operations and investments across the SSE group and we are satisfied with what has been achieved in the first half of the financial year. Providing electricity and gas and related services is an important but complex task that requires the careful management of the wide range of issues that affect them. We are committed to managing these issues as effectively as possible, so that we continue delivering good services for our customers and fair returns for our shareholders and, in particular, annual dividend increases that are at least equal to RPI inflation."
This announcement is being disclosed in accordance with the Market Abuse Regulation (EU596/2014) and has been determined to contain inside information in line with the definition therein.
This information is provided by RNS