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Areva sees higher profits in 2008 after reporting a 14.5 percent rise in 2007 net profit

Areva sees higher profits in 2008 after reporting a 14.5 percent rise in 2007 net profit

French nuclear company Areva on Tuesday reported a 14.5 increase in 2007 net profit and said it expects income to rise further in 2008 as it reaps the benefits of a worldwide nuclear revival.
The world's largest nuclear power company said net profit rose to euro743 million (US$1.1 billion) from euro649 million (US$965.32 million) in 2006, above analysts' expectations.
The company did not break out second-half figures.
"For 2008, the group foresees a further increase in its backlog, sales revenue and operating income," CEO Anne Lauvergeon said in a statement.
Policy makers seeking an antidote to coal-fired plants that contribute to global warming are themselves warming to nuclear power as the memory of accidents at Three Mile Island in 1979 and Chernobyl in 1986 fades.
Areva and its competitors are rushing to hire and train personnel to cope with new orders.
Lauvergeon told a Paris news conference that Areva will accelerate its hiring program in 2008 "to prepare for the future."
Last year, the group employed 11,500 more people, after an increase of 8,600 in 2006. This year it plans around 12,000 new hires.
State-owned Areva has announced several nuclear cooperation and other deals with countries from China to the United Arab Emirates in the past months.
Engineers are designing the next generation of reactors to be safer than today's _ and they are being billed as a solution to global warming. Nuclear reactors do not emit carbon dioxide, blamed for heating the planet.
Operating profit _ a measure of earnings from ongoing operations _ rose 84.6 percent to euro751 million ($1117.04 million) from euro407 million, Areva said Tuesday.
Areva reported Jan. 31 a 10 percent sales growth to euro11.92 billion (US$17.72 billion), up from euro10.86 billion in 2006. At the end of December, Areva's backlog stood at euro39.83 billion, up by 55 percent from that of year-end 2006.
The group's reactors and services business reported a sharp reduction in its operating losses in 2007 as it took less provisions on its reactor in Finland, which has suffered delays and cost overruns.
Finland's European Pressurized-water reactor (EPR) _ to be the first commercial example of Areva's third generation nuclear reactor _ is scheduled to go on stream in 2011.
Shares have barely moved in the past year _ down 1 percent _ and closed flat Tuesday at euro706 ($1,050.10).
Only 4 percent of Areva's share capital is listed on the Paris stock exchange and Lauvergeon nurtures a long-burning ambition to sell more shares to raise funds for future development.
The previous government under former Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin scuppered her plans, shelving a planned privatization in 2005.
Nine months into his presidency, Nicolas Sarkozy is still mulling Areva's options. Patrick Kron, CEO of power engineer Alstom SA, is lobbying for a merger, a move opposed by Lauvergeon.
The French state owns 93.4 percent of Areva, mostly through the nuclear research organization CEA. The CEA said last November it could sell 27.5 percent if the government give the plans a green light.
No decision is expected before regional elections March 9-16.
Areva said Tuesday it is proposing a euro6.77 (US$10.07) dividend, compared with euro8.46 (US$12.58) last year.


Updated : 2020-12-06 06:43 GMT+08:00