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Origin downgrades FY profit forecast

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Energy producer and retailer Origin Energy fears its full year earnings will drop by up to 15 per cent after its interim profit fell by a third.

Origin on Thursday said its net profit dropped 34 per cent to $524 million in the half year to December 31, from $794 million in the previous corresponding period.

Revenue rose 14 per cent to $7.4 billion, from $6.5 billion.

Origin now expects its full year profit to fall by between 10 and 15 per cent, instead of its previously forecast drop of five to 10 per cent.

It blamed the profit downgrade on a combination of weather, demand and plant availability in January which resulted in an extended period of high wholesale electricity prices in Queensland.

"Origin now estimates that the cost of this event, including additional hedges to reduce exposure to such events in the second half, is approximately $30 to $35 million in underlying profit," the company said in a statement.

"The consequence of this event cannot be absorbed in the guidance range issued in November 2012 and, therefore, based on prevailing market conditions, guidance for underlying profit for the 2013 financial year is now 10 to 15 per cent below the prior year."

Origin's underlying profit in 2011/12 was $893 million.

The company maintained its fully-franked interim dividend at 25 cents.