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Glowing results for nuclear power at France's EDF

EDF's Cruas Nuclear Power Plant along the Rhone river in southern France
AFP/File
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Paris (AFP)

A rebound in nuclear and hydroelectric production helped French power company EDF push operating profits higher last year, it said Friday while remaining cautious about the outlook for 2019.

Operating profit climbed by 11 percent to 15.3 billion euros ($17.2 billion), slightly higher than the consensus of analyst forecasts compiled by data firm FactSet.

Net profit plunged by nearly 63 percent to 1.2 million euros, but the company had booked exceptional gains in 2017.

"We promised a rebound, we have delivered that rebound," chief executive Jean-Bernard Levy told journalists.

The improvement was driven by a 3.7 percent increase in nuclear production to 393.2 terawatt-hours, coming off a difficult 2017 marked by numerous shutdowns for security issues.

Hydroelectric output climbed by a quarter as ample snow and rain swelled reservoirs.

The 46.5 terawatt-hours produced was a 15-year high.

For 2019, EDF is being cautious, forecasting operating profits remaining stable at 15.3 billion or increasing as far as 16 billion euros. That outlook is based on a slight increase in nuclear output.

Levy, whom the state endorsed on Thursday for another term as chief executive, said he would make by the end of the year proposals to reorganise the company.

The French state, which owns nearly 84 percent of EDF, last year told the firm it would have to shut down 14 reactors by 2035 to meet the government's goal to reduce nuclear's share of electricity output to 50 percent, and encouraged EDF to consider reorganising its operations in order to meet that objective.

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