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French power group EDF sees 2020 earnings at lower end of forecasts

PARIS (Reuters) – French state-controlled power group EDF <EDF.PA> said on Monday it now expected its 2020 core earnings to be at the lower end of forecasts, as it deals with the impact of the coronavirus outbreak.

EDF said disruption to production caused by employees having to stay away from worksites meant EDF would be lowering its previous 2020 target of 375-390 terawatt hours (TWh) of nuclear production in France.

It added that it was keeping its 2020 target for core earnings of 17.5-18 billion euros ($18.7-$19.3 billion), although this was now expected to come in at the lower end of that range.

EDF added it had the financial and operational capacity to deliver the necessary power in all scenarios currently contemplated in France.

“The group has a strong liquidity position, with 22.8 billion euros of liquidity at end-2019. In addition, the group has confirmed and fully undrawn revolving lines of credit for a total amount of 10.3 billion euros,” EDF said.

It added that the impact of the current crisis on its 2021 power generation performance could not be precisely assessed at this stage.

“The ongoing redefinition of the (nuclear reactor) outages’ schedule, which aims primarily at maximizing availability for the 2020-21 winter period, may however have a negative impact on 2021 output,” EDF said.

“Similarly, the drop in power prices on wholesale markets may have a significant impact at year-end on the leverage ratio,” it said.

European wholesale power prices have tumbled to their lowest levels since February 2018, tracking the fall in prices across the global energy complex led by oil and carbon emissions prices.

The benchmark European year-ahead power contract, Germany’s Cal’21 <TRDEBYZ1>, extended its fall in early trade on Monday, down over 3% at 33.55 euros a megawatt hour (MWh), while the similar French price <TRFRBYZ1> lost 2.6% at 37.20 euros/MWh.

(Reporting by Bate Felix and Sudip Kar-Gupta, editing by Louise Heavens, Kirsten Donovan)