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COPEL's (ELP) Q1 Net Income Down Y/Y on Weak Sales

Companhia Paranaense de Energia ELP or COPEL reported disappointing results for first-quarter 2016. The company’s net income declined 71% year over year to R$136.1 million (US$34.9 million).

Earnings came in at R$0.49 per share or 13 cents per American Depository Receipt.

Revenues

COPEL generated net operating revenues of R$3,073.6 million (US$788.1 million) in first-quarter 2016, decreasing 27.5% year over year.

The top-line weakness was triggered by a 47.3% decline in electricity sales to distributors. This softness was partially offset by an 18.9% growth in revenues from electricity sales to final customers, 43.5% increase in revenue generated from use of the main distribution and transmission grid, 1.1% hike in construction revenue, 31.3% growth in telecommunications revenue and 1.4% in distribution of piped gas.

Electricity Sales

COPEL’s electricity sales to final customers include Copel Distribuicao’s sales in the captive market and Copel Geracao e Transmissao’s sales in the free market.

The company’s electricity sales to final customers declined 5.1% year over year to 6,896 Gigawatt hours (GWh) in first-quarter 2016. The decrease was led by 6.1% fall in Residential, 5.4% in Industrial, 5.5% in Commercial and 5.7% in Rural segments, partially offset by 1.2% increase in Other segment.

Expenses/Income

In the quarter, COPEL recorded operating costs and expenses of R$2,772.2 million (US$710.8 million), down 23.2% year over year. Expenses, as a percentage of revenues, were 90.2% up from 85.1% in the year-ago quarter. The company recorded a 33% decline in costs related to electricity purchased for resale, 77.5% related to materials & supplies for power electricity, 67.3% in natural gas and supplies for the gas business, 45.2% decrease in provision and reversals and 5.2% decline in construction costs.

However, the impact of lower costs and expenses was partially offset by a 12.9% increase in costs related to personnel and management, 25.8% for the main distribution and transmission grid, 12.6% in materials and supplies, 19.3% in third-party services, 12.4% in depreciation and amortization and 12% in other costs and expenses.

Adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (“EBITDA”) decreased 34.5% to R$598.5 million (US$153.5 million), with an EBITDA margin of 19.5%.

Balance Sheet & Cash Flow

Exiting first-quarter 2016, COPEL had cash and cash equivalents of R$1,160.4 million (US$323.2 million), down from R$1,480.7 million (US$373.9 million) at the prior-quarter end. Loans, financing and debentures were R$6,414.7 million (US$1,786.8 million), down 1.7% sequentially.

In the quarter, COPEL generated net cash of R$200.4 million (US$51.4 million) from its operating activities, down 12.2% year over year. Capital spending on the purchase of property, plant and equipment decreased 22.3% year over year to R$222.2 million (US$57 million).

During the period, the company distributed approximately R$21.5 million (US$5.5 million) as dividends and interest on equity. On Jun 27, 2016, the company will pay dividends totaling R$128.8 million and interest on own capital of R$198 million to its shareholders.

Outlook

For 2016, COPEL plans to spend R$3,149.8 million in capital expenditure. Of the total, roughly R$1,695.1 million will be used for the Generation and Transmission business, R$570 million for the Distribution business and R$146 million for the Telecommunications business.

COPEL currently has a $2.1 billion market capitalization. Some stocks worth considering in the electric utility industry include Spark Energy, Inc. SPKE, Avangrid, Inc. AGR and Avista Corp. AVA. While Spark Energy sports a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), both Avangrid and Avista carry a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

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