ENERGY heavyweight SSE has said that it plans to recommend a dividend but that it would “monitor closely” the course of coronavirus on business.

Scottish Hydroelectric owner SSE made the statement in an update before its financial year ends on March 31 2020.

It said that for 2019/20, SSE expects a year-on-year increase of around 25 per cent for SSE Renewables adjusted operating profit, mainly due to a full year of output from Beatrice offshore wind farm, and a high single-digit percentage year-on-year decrease for SSEN Transmission, SSEN Distribution and investment in SGN.

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The Perth-based firm said it expects that its adjusted earnings per share will be at the lower end of the expected 83p to 88p range, although “this is before any Covid-19-impacts that may become apparent and need to be reflected in the financial statements for the year”.

It said: “The Covid-19 outbreak started in the UK and Ireland late in SSE’s financial year and the wider economic impact of it in the UK and Ireland has not so far had any material impact on SSE’s financial results for 2019/20, and so the board still intends to recommend a full-year dividend of 80 pence per share.

“It will, however, continue to monitor the impact of Covid-19 on the wider economy and SSE."

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SSE added: “If the economic impact results in significant adverse effects on SSE’s businesses, the board’s responses may include reconsidering the timing of dividend payments, should it be in the long-term interests of the company.”

Gregor Alexander, SSE finance director, said it “remains confident about the long-term opportunities for SSE”.

Russ Mould, of AJ Bell, said that “as a utility, SSE enjoys relatively predictable demand, although the company did take pains to stress that it was constantly reviewing the event of the possible economic downturn upon even its business, cash flows and dividend plans”.

SSE shares closed down 9.44% at 1,261p.