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Waikato water swells Mercury's earnings

NZN 7/06/2017 Jonathan Underhill

Mercury Energy, the electricity generator-retailer formerly known as MightyRiverPower, has raised its 2017 earnings guidance for a third time based on increased hydro generation in the Waikato catchment.

Mercury expects earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, amortisation and fair value adjustments to be $520 million in the 12 months ending June 30, up from $493m a year earlier. That's a $10m increase from its revised guidance in April.

The upgrade "is due to a 200GWh increase in full-year forecast hydro generation resulting from persistently strong inflows across the Waikato catchment," the company said.

"Hydro generation is now forecast to be 4700 GWh for the financial year, or 700 GWh above annual average hydro generation."

Mercury said other 2017 guidance remained unchanged.

Mercury had 390,000 electricity customers at the end of March, up from 377,000 a year earlier. Its annualised churn rate of 17.6 per cent was the lowest among the major retailers and below the market average of 20.5 per cent.

The shares last traded at $3.31 and have gained 12 per cent so far this year.

Wholesale electricity prices have been rising because inflows to the larger South Island hydro catchments are running well below average.

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