Ascendant posts first-quarter loss of $0.5m

  • Capital plan: work on Belco’s North Power Station is continuing (File photograph by Akil Simmons)

    Capital plan: work on Belco’s North Power Station is continuing (File photograph by Akil Simmons)

Ascendant Group Ltd said that it had made “progress” with its potential sale of the company as it reported a first-quarter loss of $0.5 million.

Core earnings, operational earnings that exclude corporate expenses, were $3.6 million for the first three months of the year, compared to $3.4 million for the corresponding period last year.

Ascendant had little to report on its ongoing “evaluation of strategic alternatives”.

Last month the board of directors announced it had invited a select group of firms to submit proposals for the purchase of the company.

“The board will ensure that any proposals will fully consider the interests of the company’s customers, employees, shareholders, and the community,” Ascendant said in a statement.

Dennis Pimentel, Belco’s president, said the utility had submitted its tariff application to the Regulatory Authority in April 2019 to determine the rates customers will pay for electricity for 2020 and 2021.

“Construction of the $120 million North Power Station replacement generation continues and the battery storage project has been brought online,” Mr Pimentel said.

Belco is also investing in upgrades to its transmission and distribution grid that will reduce the risk of outages going forward.

“These projects are being carried out in anticipation of increased capacity from renewables as contemplated by the Integrated Resource Plan, with a view to reducing the cost of electricity for our customers in the future.”

The increase in core earnings from operations was largely the result of continued growth in Ascendant’s non-utility businesses and decreased operational expenses across the group, offset by lower revenues from decreasing electricity demand at Belco, the company said.

Sean Durfy, Ascendant’s chief executive officer, said: “The company continues to execute its strategic five-year plan with much progress made on the $250 million capital plan that is geared towards building a foundation for the future.

“AG Holdings Ltd continues to drive its growth plan with increases in project revenue in AirCare Ltd and design and build projects in IFM Ltd. iEPC Ltd was also successful in completing its portion of the King’s Wharf refurbishments project on time and on budget.”

Capital expenditures for the first three months of 2019 were $28.2 million compared to $5.5 million for the same period of 2018, as Belco’s replacement generation, battery energy storage system and transmission and distribution modernisation projects progressed.

The board declared a quarterly dividend of 11.25 cents per common share.

During the three-month period ended March 2019 the company repurchased 139,395 shares at an average cost of $18.25.

The share price closed at $22 on March 31, 2019. The share repurchase programme was suspended on April 1, 2019.

Ascendant’s shares closed at $21 on the BSX yesterday.

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Published May 7, 2019 at 8:00 am (Updated May 6, 2019 at 10:31 pm)

Ascendant posts first-quarter loss of $0.5m

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