Ascendant posts $4.1m first-quarter profit

  • Expenses reduction: Ascendant Group's earnings climbed despite a fall in Belco's electricity sales (File photograph)

    Expenses reduction: Ascendant Group's earnings climbed despite a fall in Belco's electricity sales (File photograph)

Ascendant Group Ltd posted net earnings of $4.1 million for the first three months of the year as electricity demand fell.

The parent company of power utility Belco said the impact of Covid-19 on the group had been minimal through the end of March and added that it intended to help customers who suffered financially from the crisis.

In its management’s analysis, the company conceded that the crisis “may have negative impact on our near-term financial results as a result of reduced sales, uncollectable accounts, and disrupted supply chain and operations.”

Sean Durfy, Ascendant’s chief executive officer, said the company had performed well in the first quarter and results were stable.

“Bermuda continued to face economic headwinds during the quarter which led to the multiyear trend of lower electricity demand,” Mr Durfy said.

“The other companies in the Ascendant Group were flat. While the Ascendant Group companies were only minimally impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic in the first quarter, we are now focused on its impact on our operations and the Bermuda community going forward.

“We have taken measures to ensure the health and safety of our staff and are working with customers to ease their financial burden if they have become unemployed as a result of the pandemic.”

Belco has launched a bill deferment programme, under which customers who have been approved to receive government Covid-19 unemployment benefit will be able to defer their electricity bills for as long as they are receiving the benefit.

Dennis Pimentel, Belco’s president, said the utility had made strong progress with its capital plan.

“The North Power Station was completed, commissioned and is now supplying Bermuda’s base load energy needs more efficiently than ever before,” Mr Pimentel said. “This $120 million project is something our entire team can be proud of.

“Belco has also started on a $50 million, three-year grid upgrade and modernisation project that will be more reliable and allow for large and small scale renewables to be added to the grid.

“These projects will ensure Bermuda is served by cleaner, safer and more reliable energy while we transition to a renewable energy future.”

Belco, which employs 217 staff, is the largest part of the group, which also includes AirCare, IFM, a facilities management firm, iEPC Ltd, an engineering operation and Ascendant Properties, the group’s property management arm.

Core earnings increased to $4.1 million, or 42 cents per share, from $1 million in the first quarter of 2019, with the increase attributed to reduced operating expenses offset by lower electricity sales.

Ascendant’s board of directors declared a quarterly dividend of 11.25 cents per share.

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Published May 5, 2020 at 3:14 pm (Updated May 5, 2020 at 3:14 pm)

Ascendant posts $4.1m first-quarter profit

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