By Christoph Steitz and Tom Käckenhoff
ESSEN, Germany (Reuters) -RWE, Germany's biggest utility, pledged a higher dividend and more investments on Tuesday to expand its core renewables business, boosting its shares in pre-market trade.
RWE has been relatively shielded from the energy crisis that gripped Europe last year, mainly due to its low exposure to Russian fuel imports, and was even able to expand in the U.S. renewables market via a $6.8 billion acquisition.
Net investments of 4.4 billion euros ($4.7 billion) in 2022 would be exceeded this year, the company said, also announcing a dividend of 1 euro per share for 2023, an increase of 11% year-on-year.
"RWE is one of the international drivers of the energy transition. We now hold a leading position in all our core regions – in the EU, the UK and the U.S.," Chief Executive Officer Markus Krebber said.
"We will continue to strengthen this position through massive investment in our green core business."
Shares in the company were up 2.1% in pre-market trade.
For 2023, RWE expects adjusted earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) to come in between 3.6 billion and 4.2 billion euros ($3.9 billion-$4.5 billion), a decline of up to a fifth compared with 2022 levels.
According to the Vara poll provided by the company, analysts expect adjusted EBIT of 3.8 billion euros.
The company's 2022 results, which were pre-released in January, had also been boosted by likely one-time factors such as a massive trading profit and high margins at RWE's gas-fired power plants on the back of higher wholesale prices.
($1 = 0.9342 euros)
(Reporting by Christoph Steitz and Tom Kaeckenhoff; Editing by Paul Carrel and Sherry Jacob-Phillips)