THE country’s biggest power utility Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) said its audited consolidated core net income in 2015 grew 4 percent to P18.9 billion on higher electricity sales and a wider customer base as well as improved contributions from its subsidiaries and affiliates.
Consolidated reported net income rose to P19.1 billion from P18.2 billion in 2014.
Earnings growth also came from operational excellence and higher productivity, Meralco president and chief executive officer Oscar Reyes told a press conference on Friday.
The company said electricity volume last year reached 37,124 gigawatt-hours (GWh), up 5.6 percent from 35,160 GWh in 2014, primarily due to the combined commercial and industrial volumes of Meralco and Clark Electric Development Distribution Corp. (CEDDC).
At the start of 2015, Meralco had forecast energy sales to grow by just a little over 3 percent but it attained 5.6 percent growth due to customer expansion and favorable external factors.
It said its residential customers increased 7.3 percent over 2014 while industrial and commercial customers were up 3.4 percent and 6.1 percent, respectively.
External factors included the much warmer temperatures beginning August 2015 due to the effects of “El Niño”; better power plant availability; and positive economic conditions of record low inflation, much lower electricity prices and healthy economic growth spurred by growing remittances from overseas Filipinos and business process outsourcing (BPO) revenues.
Initiatives to better serve its customers, including a more robust and reliable sub-transmission and distribution system, also contributed to boosting customer count and energy sales.
Meralco said its customer base increased by over 200,000 or 4.0 percent to 5.8 million at the end of 2015.
Betty Siy-Yap, Meralco senior vice president and chief financial officer, said the company’s board of directors approved on Friday a final cash dividend of P3.22 a share and special cash dividend of P6.70 a share, or a final cash dividend of P9.92 a share to all
shareholders on record as of March 23, payable on April 15, 2016.
The final cash dividend, which is addition to the interim dividend of P5.16 a share, brings total cash dividend to P15.08 a share, consisting of regular dividends of P8.38 a share and special dividend of P6.70 a share, or a total cash payout of 90 percent of Meralco’s 2015 consolidated core net income.
Meralco chairman Manuel Pangilinan said the outlook for a sustained healthy growth of the economy remains positive.
“The Philippine economy has moved to a new growth trajectory of 6 percent per annum over the last couple of years and has proven to be quite resilient,” he said.
“Vertical and horizontal structures continue to be built and absorbed by the market, which are leading indicators of future electricity demand,” he said.
“These make it imperative for Meralco to sustain heavy capital expenditures in our power distribution system, customer-facing and shared service facilities, and in technology innovation and digital transformation. Parallel to this, we remain committed to making sizable investments in new highly efficient and reliable power generating plants for baseload and mid-merit requirements. We aim to remain ahead of the curve to ensure that the needs of our customers are fully served,” Pangilinan added.
Meralco reported electricity revenues of P249.8 billion in 2015, down 5 percent from P261.7 billion the year before, and said consolidated capital expenditures (capex) in 2015 totaled P11.3 billion.
Cash flow from operations for 2015 reached P42.7 billion while free cash as at the end of 2015 amounted to P31.9 billion.
Total interest-bearing debt stood at P30.3 billion at the end of 2015, of which P2.9 billion is due within one year. Total debt incurred by Meralco’s subsidiaries was P2.6 billion.