French utility GDF Suez first-half profit up

French utility GDF Suez said Thursday its first-half operating profit was up 4.2 percent to 9.2 billion euros ($11.3 billion) on the back of surging revenues.

Revenues were up 10.6 percent to 50.5 billion euros "despite a continued difficult economic and regulatory environment," the company said in a statement.

It confirmed its full-year financial objectives of recurring net profit of between 3.7 billion and 4.2 billion euros and an ordinary dividend that would be stable or higher than in 2011.

It will pay an interim dividend of 0.83 euros a share in October.

Recurring net profit in the first-half was up six percent to 2.5 billion euros.

Group share net profit was down 14.9 percent to 2.3 billion euros, after an exceptional capital gain of 595 million euros in the first half of 2011.

GDF said it planned to bill its customers an additional 290 million euros after a freeze on its tariffs from last October 1 to January 1 was overruled.

It also said a French government decision to limit tariff increases to two percent would prevent it from covering its costs, cutting an expected 30 million euros from its third-quarter core profit.

"The solid results of the first half demonstrate the group's strong resistance in a deteriorating economic environment," CEO Gerard Mestrallet said in the statement.

"GDF Suez is... in as position to achieve all its 2012 objectives," he said. "The group will pursue the continuous improvement of its financial and industrial performances, especially thanks to a strong action of cost-reduction and control of investments."

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