RPT-UPDATE 1-Japan's JERA raises FY22/23 earnings estimate on lower LNG procurement cost
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By Yuka Obayashi
TOKYO, Jan 30 (Reuters) - JERA, Japan's biggest power generator, said on Monday it now sees a net profit of 100 billion yen ($769 million) for the year to March 31, against its previous forecast of a net loss of 200 billion yen, due to lower-than-expected fuel procurement cost.
"We had assumed a tight global LNG market during the winter, but the market has eased thanks to warmer weather in Europe, improving our procurement environment in terms of volume and prices," Tetsuo Yoshida, the head of finance, told a news conference.
Higher-than-expected profit from its trading unit, JERAGM, and stronger contribution from reselling some of the super-chilled fuel by JERA, one of the world's biggest LNG buyers, when its demand was lower, also boosted its earnings, Yoshida said.
The revised guideline is based on an assumption that JERA will not receive the fuel from Freeport LNG, the second-biggest U.S. LNG exporter, by the end of March, according to Yoshida.
The LNG company's plant shut after a pipeline explosion on June 8, 2022 and the restart has been delayed.
Freeport LNG got approval from federal regulators last week to take early steps to restart the plant in Texas, though it has not yet sought permission to restart the facility.
"We don't know when the plant will resume operation," Yoshida said.
JERA, a joint venture between Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings and Chubu Electric Power Co, said in October that it would book a 110 billion yen loss related to the Freeport LNG fire, mostly due to higher costs to buy alternative fuel from the soaring spot market.
In November, JERA President Satoshi Onoda predicted Freeport would resume a partial operation in mid-December and its shipments to be fully back by March.
Despite the delay of Freeport's restart, JERA stuck to its 110 billion loss estimate from the fire, saying lower spot LNG prices are helping to offset an impact from the delay, Yoshida said.
IN THE RED
Japan utilities are suffering from high costs of imported fuel and weak yen, two main factors hitting their financials, but situation will likely improve in the next business year starting in April as companies plan to raise household power prices in spring.
On Monday, Chubu Electric, which owns 50% in JERA, also raised its 2022/2023 outlook to a net profit of 50 billion yen from its October estimate of a loss of 130 billion yen, citing the recent drop in fuel costs and local wholesale electricity prices. It still posted a net loss of 37.5 billion yen in April-December period.
Hokuriku Electric Power, meanwhile, stuck to its full-year forecast of a record net loss of 90 billion yen after posting 75.8 billion net loss in the nine-month period.
($1 = 130.0900 yen) (Reporting by Yuka Obayashi, addition reporting by Katya Golubkova; Editing by Christopher Cushing and Louise Heavens)