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Power plants forecast profit plunge on higher coal price
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China's power producers are expected to record a 50 percent to 60 percent drop in net profit --or even losses -- compared with the previous year due to soaring coal prices, according to statements to the Shanghai and Shenzhen stock exchange markets over the weekend and on Monday.

SDIC Huajing Power said its 2008 net profit fell more than 60 percent. That was compared with the 550 million yuan (US$80.48 million) net profit in 2007 with earnings per share at 0.63 yuan, according to its statement to the Shanghai Stock Exchange Market.

Huangneng Power International, said the company would be expected to post losses for 2008, but didn't disclose a specific figure.

Its net profit in 2007 hit 5.997 billion yuan, with earnings per share at 0.50 yuan.

Guangdong Shaoneng Group forecast its losses at 60 million yuan to 80 billion yuan last year, with losses per share at 0.065 yuan to 0.086 yuan, in its statement to the smaller Shenzhen Stock Exchange Market. The company's net profit totaled 90.91 million yuan in 2007.

According to their statements, Guangdong Shaoneng attributed their ugly results to the capped electricity price and coal price hikes, noting the country's move to raise on-grid power prices twice failed to prop up profits.

For example, the price of steam coal at Qinghuangdao Port of Hebei Province in north China stood at 650 yuan per tonne in May, and rose to around 1,050 yuan per tonne in July. It dropped to around 630 yuan per tonne in November.

China raised the on-grid power price by 0.017 yuan per kwh in June and 0.02 yuan kwh in August to around 0.3 yuan per kwh on average to offset rising costs in power plants. But retail household power prices were capped amid concerns of a higher inflation.

The country's five largest power generators, including China Huaneng Group, China Datang Corp. and China Guodian Corp., posted combined losses of 26.836 billion yuan in the toughest first ten months because of the gap between the steep coal prices and the state-set electricity prices.

China's coal prices declined since August 2008 and inventory climbed, which eased the pressure of power companies, analysts said.

Wang Zejun, power industry analyst with Beijing-based Huarong Securities, said higher coal prices were the main reason for slacking performance. Decreased demand also pared profits for power producers.

He said as coal prices continued to fall, the whole power industry would be expected to reverse the slump this year and gain40 billion yuan to 13 billion yuan by the year end.

(Xinhua News Agency January 20, 2009)

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