MONTREAL - Renewable energy producer Boralex says it is on track to double the size of its business by the end of 2016 and beyond that is looking at growth opportunities both within and outside its base in Canada and France.
"Everything is now in place for a significant increase in EBITDA starting next year," CEO Patrick Lemaire said in a conference call Wednesday to discuss fourth-quarter and 2012 results.
"On a proportionate consolidation basis, we are today in the position to double the size of the company over the next few years, its EBITDA and cash flow without the need to raise any equity."
Boralex said net profit plummeted in the fourth quarter as revenue from energy sales slid 6.5 per cent due weaker hydrology in the United States and the transformation of its thermal power business.
The Montreal-based company said Wednesday that net income attributable to shareholders fell to $1.2 million or three cents per share in the three months ended Dec. 31.
That was down from $8.2 million or 8.2 cents per share in the comparable 2011 period when the company reported net earnings from discontinued operations of $4.6 million, equivalent to 12 cents per share, versus $696,000 or two cents per share in the latest period.
Sales revenue dropped to $52.1 million from $56.5 million, while overall revenue came in at $54.5 million, down from $56.7 million.
On an adjusted basis, the company reported profits of a penny per share, matching estimates, while beating revenue estimates of $52.2 million, according to a survey of analysts compiled by Thomson Reuters.
A year ago, it earned 10 cents per share in adjusted profits on $56.7 million of revenues.
For the full year, analysts forecast that Boralex would record an adjusted loss of 27 cents per share on $181.4 million of revenues, compared with a loss of seven cents per share on $194.7 million in 2011.
In fact, Boralex posted a full-year adjusted loss of 25 cents per share on revenue of $183.3 million.
"Our growth path remains very compelling and many projects are set to significantly start contributing to EBITDA late in 2013 and 2014," Lemaire told analysts.
He said work is expected to resume early this spring to erect towers in the Seigneurie de Beaupre wind farm, the largest wind power project ever undertaken by Boralex. It is slated to begin delivering power by year-end.
Construction of the flagship 272-megawatt project is on time and budget. The Quebec government recently gave the green light to phase two of the Seigneurie expansion, allowing Boralex and its consortium partners to seek construction permits and obtain financing for the 68-megawatt extension.
Longer-term, Lemaire said Boralex is eyeing opportunities for growth. It has visited South America a couple of times but doesn't foresee great opportunities in the United States unless it can gain access to steady, long-term contracts.
"France is still for us a good pipeline if we look at 2016 to 2020," he said. "We're looking elsewhere than Canada and France to secure a pipeline in the years after 2015."
Lemaire said 2012 was a transition year for the company as the weight of our thermal power stations was reduced in favour of assets covered by long-term contracts in the wind and hydroelectric power segments.
Pierre Lacroix of Desjardins Capital Markets said the results were largely in line with expectations and that the company's long-term growth remains on track.
Wind segment earnings increased by $2.8 million due mainly to the St-Patrick wind farm in France acquired in June 2012. Earnings in all other segments declined slightly, driven by weaker hydrology in line with historical averages and lower thermal segment output due to the closure of Dolbeau and the halt of operations at Kingsey Falls in the quarter.
Boralex said it continues to evaluate opportunities to add about 100 megawatts of power over the near term.
"Ultimately, we continue to see Boralex as an attractively priced growth story driven by its near-term construction projects in Canada and France, and by its longer-term development prospects," he wrote in a report.
Boralex operates an asset base with an installed capacity of more than 500 megawatts in Canada, the northeastern U.S. and France. It owns a share of 356 MW of energy scheduled to come online through 2015 and is seeking opportunities to add 100 MW of wind power.
On the Toronto Stock Exchange, Boralex shares were up 13 cents at $9.29 in Wednesday afternoon trading.