StockBeat: E.On Rewarded for Tackling npower Woes

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Investing.com — German-based utility E.ON (DE:) is taking the ax to the U.K. power business it bought from rival RWE (DE:) last year, as it tries to turn round a business hobbled by capped prices and a swarm of low-cost competitors.

E.On said it would take a 500 million-pound ($642 million) hit from restructuring the struggling npower business, but said it expected npower to generate at least 100 million pounds a year in earnings before interest and taxes from 2022 onward. It said it has stabilized customer numbers since switching to an exclusively green energy offer earlier this year.

The market has given its approval, pushing the stock up by 1.6% on a day when pretty much everything else is falling after confidence in an imminent U.S.-China trade deal was hit by the U.S.’s enacting of legislation supporting pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong.

E.On’s stock is now up over 12% from its 2019 low three months ago but is still essentially stuck in the same rut it has been in since late 2017. That’s a reflection of how little the radical asset swap with RWE has done to actually unlock shareholder value, and also a stark illustration of the side-effects of Germany’s much-touted ‘Energiewende’ policy, which has driven up consumer bills while doing little or nothing to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power stations.

By 5 AM ET (1000 GMT), the German was down 0.2%, recovering slightly after the country’s jobless rolls fell surprisingly in November, allaying concerns about the slowdown that has hit German manufacturing so hard this year.

The benchmark slipped 0.1% to 408.70, under the influence of an earlier and sharper fall in Asian markets, especially Hong Kong. The U.K. , meanwhile, also edged 0.1% lower after a survey showing consumer confidence at its lowest since 2013 – something that appears out of kilter with polls showing a commanding lead for the ruling party in the current election campaign.

Other data showed U.K. consumer borrowing rising for the first time since June last year, although a more worrying development saw foreign investors dump U.K. government bonds at the fastest rate since February in October. That was ahead of what was supposed to be the U.K. ‘s exit from the European Union at the end of last month.

Elsewhere in stock markets, the standout performer was U.K. online grocery specialist Ocado (LON:), which soared some 15% after announcing a long-term strategic partnership with Japan’s largest food retailer Aeon.

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