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Eesti Energia Group results for Q1 2023

The sales revenues of Eesti Energia Group amounted to EUR 582.7 million, 2.0% year-on-year, in the first quarter of 2023. Reported group EBITDA was EUR 178.3 million (-16.3% year-on-year), while adjusted EBITDA* was at EUR 202.3 million (+58.9%). The Group's reported net profit was at EUR 118.6 million (-27.2% year-on-year), adjusted net profit at EUR 142.6 million (+84.6%).

* - the introduction of adjusted EBITDA and adjusted net profit from 2022 Q1 is to present EBITDA and net profit in a normalized way for better comparability with the elimination of temporary fluctuations in the fair value of long-term Power Purchase Agreements (PPA) derivatives.

Group financials

In Q1 2023 the group had strong financial performance with Electricity segment’s profits increasing the most together with Distribution segment and other products and services also contributing. Natural gas segment showed the biggest decline on the profit line but did not have too significant impact on Group’s overall results.

In the Electricity segment revenue growth was underpinned by strong performance of retail sales together with hedges done from higher price levels. Electricity segment’s EBITDA was additionally impacted by non-monetary temporary fluctuations in the fair value of long-term Power Purchase Agreements (PPA) derivatives which were significantly lower than in the first quarter of 2022. In Q1 2023 such temporary fluctuations of PPA derivatives amounted to -24.0 million euros, in Q1 2022 to +85.7 million euros with a total effect of -109.7 million year-on-year.

Despite distribution segment’s slightly lower volumes, revenues increased by 28.0% due to increases in the tariff. Distribution EBITDA almost doubled and was positively affected by the increase of average sales price. Shale oil segments EBITDA saw a slight increase with increases in production and sales quantities and revenue, despite the lower sales price. Shale oil segment’s EBITDA is held back by hedges made a year ago from lower price levels in accordance with the Group’s hedging strategy, while the cost base has also slightly increased. Natural gas sales volumes have decreased by 55.0% with sales revenue decreasing by 45.3% mostly due to significantly lower market prices and lower demand. Other segment’s performance was driven mostly by pellet sales, but also frequency restoration reserve (FRR) service had a decent contribution to the segment’s performance.

Investments during the quarter amounted to 159.5 million euros, +168.8% higher than a year earlier. The rise in investments mainly came from renewable energy investments to new wind and solar parks. The high electricity price environment continues to support the ongoing investments of the Group. These investments help to increase the energy independence and generation of affordable and environmentally friendly electricity in the region.

Electricity segment

Eesti Energia's sales revenues from electricity grew slightly by +2.4% year-on-year to EUR 373 million in Q1 2023. The Group's average electricity sales price excluding derivative impact was at 130.1 EUR/MWh (+10.5% year-on-year). As a comparative figure, the Q1 2023 average market electricity price for Estonian Nord Pool area declined to 99.4 EUR/MWh (-25.5% year-on-year). The Group’s average electricity sales price increased to a greater extent compared to the market average due to retail sales contracts where the electricity prices are fixed. Such contracts make up roughly half of the retail portfolio. Electricity sales volume for the quarter totaled at 2.9 TWh (-0.4% year-on-year), from which retail sales amounted to 2.8 TWh (+6% year-on-year). Electricity generation during the quarter amounted to 1.3TWh (-22% year-on-year) as a direct result of lower generation from Group’s flexible power production units (oil shale based hybrid power plants) due to low electricity prices and high CO2 prices. Group’s flexible power production units (oil shale based hybrid power plants) produced ca 0.8 TWh of electricity in Q1 2023. Renewable electricity production which includes electricity production from wind, solar, and waste wood increased to 0.5 TWh (+30% year-on-year) due to the addition of new wind farms in Estonia and Lithuania.

EBITDA of the electricity segment totaled at EUR 149.7 million (-3.8% year-on-year) mostly due to negative impact related to changes in value of derivative instruments and power purchase agreements for renewable energy. The effect of these unrealized hedges amounted to EUR -68.1 million in annual comparison). Largest positive impacts came from gain on derivatives which amounted to EUR 39.9 million in annual comparison and margin impact, which biggest contributor is higher sales price, that amounted to EUR 24.6 million in annual comparison. Negative impacts came from higher variable costs and fixed costs. Higher variable costs are the result of high CO2 prices and electricity purchasing cost as the electricity for market-based retail contracts are bought from the market at the currently high price levels. The adjusted EBITDA (adjusted with the elimination of temporary fluctuations in the fair value of long-term PPA derivatives) figure for the quarter was at EUR 173.7 (+148.5% year-on-year) million compared to EUR 69.9 million in Q1 2022.

Distribution segment

Eesti Energia's revenues from the distribution segment amounted to EUR 81.5 million in Q1 2023 (+28.0% year-on-year). The distributed volumes declined (-4.5% year-on-year) but stayed at 1.9TWh for the quarter. Average distribution sales price, the tariff, was at 43.4 €/MWh (+34.0% year-on-year). Distribution EBITDA for the quarter increased to EUR 29.1 million (+90.3% year-on-year) due to positive impacts mainly from higher tariffs. Slightly lower volumes and higher fixed costs had a negative impact but to a small extent.

Shale oil segment

Eesti Energia's revenues from shale oil sales amounted to EUR 40.6 million (+28.6% year-on-year), with shale oil sales volume at 111.9 thousand tons (+7.5% year-on-year) as this year there were less maintenances in the first quarter than last year. Eesti Energia's average shale oil sales price excluding the impact from derivative transactions decreased to 420.7 EUR/ton (-26.7% year-on-year) due to lower oil market prices. There is still good demand for Group’s oil products as reference products average quarterly market price was at 407 EUR/t (-25.2% year-on-year). Group’s average shale oil sales price including the impact of derivative transactions was at 363.3 EUR/ton (+20% year-on-year). EBITDA from Shale oil operations was positive in the first quarter with a result of EUR 5.7 million (+113.9% year-on-year).

Natural gas segment

Eesti Energia's revenues from the natural gas segment amounted to EUR 45.6 million in Q1 2023 (-45.3% year-on-year). The sales volumes declined (-55.0% year-on-year), at 0.4 TWh for the quarter due to lower demand. Average natural gas sales price was at 125.9 €/MWh (+21.6% year-on-year). Natural gas EBITDA for the quarter decreased to negative territory and amounted to EUR -7.1 million (-116.1% year-on-year) due to negative impacts mainly from unrealized derivatives and high variable costs.

Other segment

EBITDA from Group's other products and services totaled at EUR 1.1 million in the first quarter of 2023 (+121.8% year-on-year). The biggest negative factor came from heat sales due to higher variable and fixed costs. The frequency restoration reserve (FRR) service was the biggest positive contributor to EBITDA with 3.6 million euros (+71.4% year-on-year).

Capital expenditure

The Group's capital expenditure amounted to EUR 160 million (+168.8% year-on-year) in Q1 2023. Investments to the renewable asset developments amounted to EUR 92 million during the quarter. Electricity distribution network investments are in second place with EUR 32 million during the quarter. The distribution network investments are largely aimed at improving connection points to enable additional solar production capacities to be connected to the distribution network. Investments to other development projects increased to EUR 26 million, from which the largest share went to the construction of a new chemical plant (new Enefit-280). The new Enefit-280 chemical plant is scheduled to be completed in 2024 and will increase the annual shale oil output to 700,000 tons while serving as a cornerstone for transforming the current liquid fuels and electricity-oriented production from oil shale to chemical industry based on circular economy principles with a zero-carbon footprint target by 2045.

Financing, credit ratings and dividends

As of the end of first quarter 2023, cash and cash equivalents held by the Group totaled EUR 233.6 million. As of 31 March 2023, Eesti Energia had access to a total of EUR 1,370 million of bank loans, from which revolving credit facilities amounted to EUR 200 million and long-term loan agreements signed with multiple counterparties to EUR 1,170 million. Eesti Energia’s net debt was at EUR 866 million, net debt to EBITDA ratio increased to 2.2x (on adjusted EBITDA basis to 2.1x) compared to the 3.5x financial policy target of the company.

On February 15th, 2023, Eesti Energia signed a sustainability linked, amortizing term loan contract in the amount of 600 million EUR. The term of the senior unsecured loan is 5 years. The loan is sustainability linked with two ESG KPI’s: carbon intensity of scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions and yearly addition of renewable energy capacity. The purpose of the term loan is to primarily refinance the 500 million EUR bond maturing in September 2023 and supporting Eesti Energia’s carbon neutrality strategy.

Eesti Energia is rated BBB- (stable) by Standard & Poor’s and Baa3 (stable) by Moody’s. Eesti Energia's financial policy is aimed at maintaining investment grade credit rating and a net-debt to EBITDA long-term target of 3.5 times. For the upcoming quarter we expect the net-debt/EBITDA ratio to increase as the Group continues the execution of its investment pipeline.

Overall, the Group’s management assesses the Group to be well balanced for current highly volatile environment due to Group’s diverse asset structure.

Outlook

It is the management’s expectation that in 2023 Eesti Energia's sales revenue, EBITDA and investments will likely increase compared to 2022 numbers.

Eesti Energia will publish its Q2 results on 3 August 2023.

Eesti Energia conducts derivative transactions to hedge the price risk of electricity, CO2 and oil. The Group's hedge positions for electricity power production amounted to 1.7 TWh for the remainder of 2023 (at average price of 200.5 EUR/MWh) and 0.5 TWh for 2024 (at average price of 148.2 EUR/MWh). The Group's hedge positions for electricity retail sales amounted to 3.1 TWh for the remainder of 2023 (at average price of 69.8 EUR/MWh) and 2.9 TWh for 2024 (at average price of 50.8 EUR/MWh).

For shale oil, the hedge positions totaled 273.3 thousand tons for the remainder 2023 (at average price of 337.4 EUR/ton) and 315.0 thousand tons for 2024 (at average price of 398.3 EUR/ton). For naphtha, the hedge positions totaled 43.5 thousand tons for 2023 (at average price of 455.5 EUR/ton) and 49.7 thousand tons for 2024 (at average price of 567.6 EUR/ton)

The Group's position in CO2 emission allowances for 2023 amounts to 3.7 million tons at an average price of 62.9 EUR/ton (including forward transactions, free emission allowances received as investment support and the surplus of unused allowances from previous periods). CO2 emission allowances for 2024 amount to 1.6 million tons at an average price of 33.1 EUR/ton (including forward transactions).

The Q1 2023 interim report of Eesti Energia and the investor presentation is available at Eesti Energia's web site.

Investor call discussing the 2023 first quarter financial results will take place on 5 May 2023, at 11:00 London time, 12:00 Frankfurt time and 13:00 Tallinn time. Please to participate. After registration you will be sent the details required to join the conference call.