SSE (LON:SSE) has updated investors on its recent trading.
Highlights from the company statement:
Alistair Phillips-Davies, Chief Executive of SSE, said:
"As expected, 2017/18 is presenting a number of complex challenges to manage, but SSE is a focused, resilient and adaptable business with efficient operations and disciplined investment at its core. There continues to be significant change across the energy sector, but also opportunities for responsibly-minded businesses to contribute positively to its direction in the interests of customers and investors alike. Our priorities remain to support positive outcomes for customers, provide reliable and sustainable energy and deliver annual dividend growth for investors that at least keeps pace with inflation."
Share Buy Back Programme
In line with its Interim Results Statement in November 2016, SSE is intending to use around £500m of the proceeds from the 16.7% equity stake divestment in Scotia Gas Networks Limited ('SGN') to return value to shareholders by way of an on-market share buy-back. At 14 July 2017, SSE had completed £323m of the buy-back, including £192m of shares purchased since 1 April 2017, with the process expected to be concluded by 31 December 2017.
SSE continues to fulfil its core purpose of providing the energy people need in a reliable and sustainable way. It operates with a clearly-defined and long-term strategic framework built around a continued focus on efficient operations and disciplined investment. The financial objective of SSE's strategy is to give shareholders a return on their investment through the payment of a full-year dividend that increases annually by at least RPI inflation in 2017/18 and beyond. SSE remains on course to deliver this.
As stated in its Preliminary Results, SSE is working to keep dividend cover in 2017/18 within the expected range of around 1.2 to 1.4 times, although it is likely to be towards the bottom of it, which means adjusted earnings per share in 2017/18 is likely to be lower than it was 2016/17; and as also stated in the Preliminary Results, the level of dividend cover remains subject to the ongoing factors that influence earnings in SSE's market-based businesses.