SSE remain on course to report record FY23 capex in excess of £2.5bn

SSE plc (LON:SSE) has announced its interim results for the six months to 30 September 2022.

NAVIGATING VOLATILITY TO DELIVER CRITICAL ENERGY INFRASTRUCTURE AND A STRONG PERFORMANCE

·      Investing at record levels, far greater than profits, in projects that will enhance energy security while creating green jobs and supporting local communities.

·      Reporting adjusted earnings per share of 41.8p, in line with pre-close guidance, reflecting strength of balanced, integrated business model and importance of assets for system security.

·      Making strategic progress on SSE’s £12.5bn Net Zero Acceleration Programme, which is the optimal pathway for SSE to deliver long term growth as the UK’s clean energy champion.

·      Strong balance sheet with prudent use of debt markets, meaning minimal long-term debt refinancing expected until FY25 and a strong liquidity position for cash collateral requirements.

·      In the context of the prevailing volatile, complex and challenging market conditions, SSE’s guidance of adjusted earnings per share for 2022/23 of at least 120p remains unchanged.  Also continue to expect 2022/23 capital investment (including acquisitions) in excess of £2.5bn and leverage well below the target 4.5x net debt to EBITDA ratio.

·      Total Recordable Injury Rate reduced to 0.15 from 0.16 in the same period last year.

FINANCIAL SUMMARY (continuing operations)

 AdjustedReported
 Sept 2022Sept 2021% mvmtSept 2022Sept 2021% mvmt
Operating profit / (loss) (£m)716.0376.8+90%(635.1)1,904.4-133%
Profit / (loss) before tax (£m)559.4174.2+221%(511.0)1,686.1-130%
Earnings / (loss) per share (p)41.810.5+298%(39.7)103.6-138%
Investment, capital and acquisitions (£m)1,743.21,042.8+67%1,432.61,056.6+36%
Net Debt and Hybrid Capital (£bn)(10.0)(9.6)+4%(9.1)(8.9)+2%

Alistair Phillips-Davies, Chief Executive, said:

“One year on and despite unprecedented volatility in the operating environment, our Net Zero Acceleration Programme has never been more relevant to society. We are investing around £12.5bn in the five years to March 2026, with further opportunities that could take the total to over £25bn this decade in the UK and Ireland alone. This direct investment primarily in offshore wind, UK electricity networks and flexible thermal will create the technologies to support long-term energy security.

“Over the past six months we have been delivering on our domestic investment programme at pace whilst increasing our pipeline diversity, through exporting our renewables expertise into selected markets overseas where net zero ambitions have also increased. This has been complemented by our Triton acquisition and organic growth potential in networks as they keep pace with increasingly ambitious government policy.

“The strength and optionality of our resilient mix of market-based and regulated businesses have shone through in this period, with recent trading conditions highlighting the true value to society of a portfolio that balances intermittent renewables with flexible generation when the system needs it most. Our business model and strategy are delivering for our stakeholders today, whilst creating future long-term societal value.”

STRATEGIC HIGHLIGHTS

·      Continuing execution of Net Zero Acceleration Programme, with record levels of capex far greater than profits, across a range of projects and technologies.

·      First power achieved at 1,075MW Seagreen offshore wind project with commercial operations now expected in summer 2023, and significant progress on Dogger Bank and Viking projects which are progressing to plan.

·      Further RAV growth in Transmission, with cable installation under way, connecting Shetland islands to the mainland ahead of expected energisation in FY24.

·      Diversified and enhanced pipeline through acquisition of Southern European onshore wind development platform, adding 2.2GW (secured) and up to 3GW (prospective) onshore wind and solar hybridisation projects. Acquisition provides a platform for building the onshore pipeline over the course of this decade.

·      Completion of 1.3GW Triton Power acquisition, in a 50:50 Joint Venture with Equinor, strengthens SSE’s position in hydrogen and carbon capture technologies to support long-term decarbonisation of the UK power system whilst contributing to security of supply and grid stability.

·      Energy policy environment continues to evolve with short-term interventions counterbalanced by accelerated longer-term ambition in key markets.

FINANCIAL HIGHLIGHTS

·      Adjusted earnings per share of 41.8p, in line with pre-close guidance.

·      Reported loss per share of (39.7)p, reflecting a number of exceptional items and certain re-measurements, most notably the negative impact from £(1.5)bn of fair value remeasurements, principally arising on forward commodity contracts.

·      Profitability in Renewables negatively affected by pace of project delivery and unfavourable weather, exacerbated by the associated requirement to buy back hedges in a higher-price environment.

·      Strong performance in Thermal Energy, with thermal generation and gas storage providing vital flexibility and security of supply to the energy system in a time of crisis.

·      Raised £1.7bn in Hybrid Capital, Eurobonds and Private Placements in the period which, together with expected disposal proceeds, mean the Group expects to have minimal long-term debt refinancing requirements until FY25.

·      Ample liquidity within SSE’s two pension schemes, with liability-driven investment strategies unaffected by October gilt rates spike and no additional company support required

·      Adjusted investment, capital and acquisition expenditure of £1.7bn

·      Adjusted net debt and hybrid capital at £10.0bn, in line with pre-close guidance.

INTERIM DIVIDEND IN LINE WITH DIVIDEND PLAN TO 2026

·      Interim dividend of 29.0p per share in line with policy (assuming FY23 average RPI of 12.7%).

·      Continue to target RPI increase for FY23 followed by rebase to 60p in FY24, with attractive annual growth of at least 5% to FY26 underpinned by strong earnings growth forecasts.

·      Scrip uptake capped at 25% on full-year dividends to FY26 as previously announced.

FINANCIAL OUTLOOK FOR 2022/23 AND BEYOND

·      Continue to expect adjusted earnings per share for the full year of at least 120p.

·      Remain on course to report record FY23 capex in excess of £2.5bn (including acquisitions).

·      Expect FY23 leverage to be lower than the target 4.5x net debt/EBITDA ratio.

·      Continue to expect adjusted EPS to grow at a CAGR of between 7-10% over the five years to March 2026, from an FY21 baseline of 87.5p.

Investor Timetable
Interim ex-dividend date12 January 2023
Record date13 January 2023
Scrip reference pricing days12-18 January 2023
Scrip reference price confirmed and released via RNS19 January 2023
Q3 Trading Statement7 February 2023
Final date for receipt of scrip elections10 February 2023
Interim dividend payment date9 March 2023
Notification of Closed Periodby 31 March 2023
Preliminary results for the year ended 31 March 202324 May 2023
AGM and Q1 Trading Statement20 July 2023

Management presentation webcast and teleconference

SSE will present its interim results for the six months to 30 September 2022 on Wednesday 16 November at 08:30am GMT.

You can join the webcast by visiting www.sse.com and following the links on either the homepage or investor pages; or directly using: https://edge.media-server.com/mmc/p/ui6sj7uu

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This will also be available as a teleconference, for which participants can register to receive a unique pin code and conference call number using: https://register.vevent.com/register/BId3fb30052edf496899a18ed65f1c18ff

Both facilities will be available to replay.

STRATEGIC OVERVIEW

THE RIGHT STRATEGY AT THE RIGHT TIME

In the year since the announcement of SSE’s Net Zero Acceleration Programme much has changed in the world. We have seen war in Europe, market and political turmoil, and three British prime ministers. Through it all, SSE has remained resolute in its commitment to a long-term strategy that is focused on contributing to the UK’s net zero ambitions, but we have also been able to respond directly to an energy crisis few of us could have foreseen.

We believe that programme, referred to simply as the ‘NZAP’, remains the optimal pathway to consolidate SSE’s position as a national clean energy champion. It includes a fully-funded investment programme that will see us spend £12.5bn on critical infrastructure by 2026.

The NZAP is also the platform that could invest in excess of £25bn over the coming decade in the UK and Ireland alone, primarily in offshore wind and UK electricity networks, but also in the deployment of vital flexibility solutions. There is scope for further investment through the export of SSE’s renewables capabilities overseas.

PERFORMANCE THROUGH VOLATILITY

By any measure the current operating environment is challenging. However, market conditions that influenced financial performance in the first half of the year have also highlighted the value of our integrated business model, with lower-than-expected renewables output being more than offset by earnings derived from gas storage and thermal assets that have been responding to system demand when needed most.

SSE’s carefully balanced portfolio comprises regulated networks businesses that are insulated from power price movements and a range of generation and storage assets that are able to manage volatility. The Group is also well placed to withstand inflationary pressures; our Networks RAV is index-linked and so too are renewables contracts and capacity payments. A strong balance sheet and stable debt profile, meanwhile, continue to provide a solid financial buffer.

DELIVERING, INVESTING AND CREATING VALUE

As detailed in the Business Unit Operating Review later in this document, SSE has been getting on with delivery of its objectives set in the NZAP. The operational performance seen in the first half is testament to the commitment and resilience of SSE’s direct employees and contractors. Keeping those people safe will always be our first priority and we have all has been deeply affected by the tragic death of a young contractor working on Shetland in June.

Progress is being made on flagship large capital projects at Dogger Bank, Seagreen and Viking wind farms; on repowering of existing hydro plant at Tummel Bridge; at our new, high-efficiency CCGT at Keadby 2; constructing the Shetland HVDC transmission link; and finalising a net zero-enabling distribution business plan for RIIO-ED2.

At the same time, expansion into Southern Europe and Japan is exporting SSE’s developer expertise in renewable energy abroad. Completion of the Southern European development platform acquisition this year helps grow SSE’s secured pipeline from 10GW to nearly 14GW plus over 10GW of future prospects even before upcoming auction processes. The development pipeline is progressing at home too with Coire Glas, Berwick Bank, Ossian (ScotWind), Seagreen 1A and North Falls; and developments in CCS, hydrogen, solar and battery technologies are creating further near-and medium-term growth options. And SSE Thermal’s fleet has been complemented with the addition of the Triton Power acquisition with Equinor, which holds significant CCS and hydrogen potential at its Saltend plant.

With a Certain View of around £2.6bn totex to 2026, SSEN Transmission is investing at pace to connect new generation in the North of Scotland. Projections of double-digit growth could see RAV exceeding £12bn by 2031. SSEN Transmission is meeting societal need and in doing so is becoming an engine of growth. Completion of the 25% minority stake, which is expected in the coming weeks, will help propel SSE forward, unlocking further investment and expansion in Transmission and across the Group as we rebalance capital allocation.

SUPPORTING NATIONAL ENERGY SECURITY …

SSE recognises the social impact of an energy-linked cost of living crisis and while government has rightly taken responsibility for providing short-term support to bill-payers, industry must invest – and have the right conditions to invest – in creating a long-term pathway out of the current difficulties. By SSE’s own estimates, if the system investment required to meet 2030 electricity targets had been made by 2022, Britain would have saved around £30bn on gas expenditure this year. The cheaper energy is coming. We just need the infrastructure; and SSE is building it at pace.

… AND ADDRESSING THE CLIMATE EMERGENCY

While SSE’s develop, build, operate and invest strategy is helping to address the current energy crisis, its purpose is also to build a better world of energy for tomorrow. SSE’s current plans would deliver 20% of the electricity networks and 20% of the offshore wind needed in the UK by 2030 to meet government net zero targets.

In 2019, SSE took the decision to align to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with four core associated 2030 Goals. The NZAP is the shorter-term plan that will enable SSE to meet those broad goals in 2030. SSE is contributing to every step of the clean electricity value chain and has verified, science-based targets to hold it accountable along the way. Recognising that the transition to net zero represents a radical economic transformation, affecting working people, their communities and consumers, SSE has continued to advance the case for a just energy transition, attracting talent from high-carbon industries and working to deliver ‘smart and fair’ smart grids at a local level.

SSE has deliberately chosen to remain invested in the transition of flexible thermal electricity generation due to the key role it plays in a renewables-led, net zero, electricity system. SSE’s greenhouse gas inventory gained additional scope 3 emissions through the Triton Power acquisition, and the Joint Venture partners (SSE Thermal and Equinor) are developing a net zero pathway for the plant.

LEADING INTO A NEW ENERGY LANDSCAPE

One thing we know for certain about the future energy landscape is that it will be electric. And as a well-balanced business with world-class electricity infrastructure capabilities we see plenty of opportunity alongside the challenges that will come over the short, medium and longer term.

In the short term, we are navigating the choppy waters of market and policy uncertainty. We have actively contributed to the debate, offering solutions to the significant cost pressures on household incomes and at the same time we are getting on with creating value for stakeholders.

Over the medium term, we see real opportunity for structural energy market reform that will both encourage investment and benefit consumers. And we are encouraged by increasingly positive policy direction in a number of overseas markets where we are exporting our developer expertise.

SSE’s strategy is delivering for us now, but it is a long-term plan consistent with legally binding net zero goals that have cross-party support at home and policy momentum abroad.

The Net Zero Acceleration Programme looks even better than it did a year ago. It is our platform for delivery and growth, underpinned by a socially responsible purpose and a value-creating strategy, investing record amounts in clean, green energy infrastructure.

Alistair Phillips-Davies
Chief Executive
SSE plc

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