Paris (AFP) - France's state-controlled nuclear energy conglomerate Areva on Wednesday posted 2013 results showing its third consecutive annual loss and forecast lower revenues this year because of persistent problems in the market.
The company made a net loss of 494 million euros ($675 million). It said that result was worse than the 99-million-euro loss for 2012 because of 425 million euros it had to set aside last year to cover overruns and delays with a European Pressurised Reactor (EPR) it has been building in Olkiluoto, Finland for the past nine years.
Revenues last year also shrank 4 percent to 9.2 billion euros, and its renewable energies activities took a hit because of lack of orders.
The results ran counter to Areva's forecast early last year that it would finish 2013 in the black.
Areva's EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation) was 1.04 billion euros, close to its target of 1.1 billion euros.
The group, which is directly and indirectly owned 87 percent by the French state, said it continued to encounter challenges in the nuclear market, which is being treated with caution following the 2011 Fukushima catastrophe.
"The situation remains uncertain in the near-term," Areva's chairman and chief executive Luc Oursel said in the statement giving the results. He said the closure of some US reactors and struggles for European electricity companies also weighed Areva down.
"We will have to learn to live in the short-term with all these uncertainties and yet we can reaffirm our mid- and long-term conviction that the nuclear market will continue to develop," he said.
Oursel said Areva aimed to sell 10 EPRs over the next two years, on top of the four already under construction around the world.
Investment this year should amount to 1.3 billion euros, dropping to 1.1 billion euros next year. Net debt was 4.42 billion euros, against 4.31 billion in 2012's results.
Oursel added that Areva had no fixed timetable to reach an accord with Niger over renewing its contracts for two uranium mines, despite both sides saying a late February deadline had been agreed. The contracts expired at the end of December 2013.
Niger, the world's fourth biggest uranium producer, argues that the previous conditions were unfair and that its financial compensation should be revised upwards.
Areva says a big hike in what it pays would threaten the profitability of the two mines, which provide it with a third of the uranium it uses.
"These talks are taking time, and are even more difficult right now given that the uranium market is not going well," Oursel said.