MANILA Electric Co. (Meralco) posted a second-quarter core net income of P10.16 billion, up 52.8% from P6.65 billion a year ago, the listed power distributor said on Monday.

Reported income, which is adjusted to exclude one-time charges, rose by 45.1% to P9.78 billion in the second quarter from P6.74 billion in the same period last year.

“As far as we are concerned, sales continued to be rather robust. We continue to be optimistic. We expect profits to be at record-high for the full year,” Manuel V. Pangilinan, chairman and chief executive officer of Meralco, said in a media briefing.

In the first half, consolidated core net income reached P19.21 billion, up by 46.8% from P13.09 billion a year ago, boosted by its power generation business.

Betty C. Siy-Yap, Meralco’s senior vice-president and chief finance officer, said energy sales increased by 3.4% to 24,792 gigawatt-hours (GWh) from 23,968 GWh, driven by a growth in the consumption of the commercial segment.

In the January-to-June period, Meralco recorded an all-time high commercial sales volume of 9,162 GWh, or 10.3% higher than 8,305 GWh previously, while residential sales volume rose by 1.4% to 8,629 GWh from 8,506 GWh. Industrial sales volume, however, decreased by 2.2% to 6,929 GWh from 7,085 a year ago.

As of the first half, Meralco’s customer count reached 7.72 million, up 2.7% from 7.52 million a year ago.

In the first six months, Meralco posted consolidated revenues of P224.82 billion, higher by 12.6% than the P199.61 billion in the corresponding period a year ago.

Reported net income went up by 36.1% to P17.85 billion from P13.12 billion, Meralco said.

“Our record-high sales volumes reflect a strong rebound in terms of power demand. As we expect this growth trajectory to continue, we will aggressively invest in distribution network upgrades and expansion, and implement more programs that will improve overall customer experience,” said Ronnie L. Aperocho, executive vice-president and chief operating officer of Meralco.

The power utility giant’s cost and expenses for January to June went up by 10.6% to P206.98 billion from P187.20 billion

In power generation, PacificLight Power Pte. Ltd. recorded a core net income of P8.9 billion, 59% higher than a year ago.

PacificLight is owned by FPM Power Holdings (Singapore) Ltd., which in turn is a joint venture between First Pacific Co. Ltd. and Meralco PowerGen Corp. (MGen), the company’s power generation arm.

Meralco said MGen contributed P6.6 billion to its consolidated core net income in the first six months, significantly higher than the P2.3 billion in the same period last year.

MGen owns 58% of PacificLight, which owns and operates a combined cycle turbine power plant in Jurong Island, Singapore.

Meanwhile, Mr. Pangilinan said that Meralco, through PacificLight, is aiming for additional power assets in Singapore.

“We are already in discussion with the government of Singapore about RE (renewable energy). They started the process for the initial 100 megawatts (MW) of solar. We are in discussion with Salim Group regarding this. We will build a plant connecting to Singapore. There are a number of issues, let us see how that develops,” Mr. Pangilinan said.

He said the Singapore government is also seeking bidders for natural gas capacity at a minimum of 600 MW. He did not specify the cost of investment involved in the expansion target but he said that natural gas power plants are currently at $1 million per MW.

“Our size is only about 800 MW and we will certainly take a serious look at participating,” Mr. Pangilinan said.

At the local bourse on Monday, shares in the company gained P4 or 1.14% to end at P356 apiece.

Meralco’s controlling stakeholder, Beacon Electric Asset Holdings, Inc., is partly owned by PLDT Inc.

Hastings Holdings, Inc., a unit of PLDT Beneficial Trust Fund subsidiary MediaQuest Holdings, Inc., has an interest in BusinessWorld through the Philippine Star Group, which it controls. — Ashley Erika O. Jose

Neil Banzuelo