UPDATE 1-Danske Commodities revenues rose in 2019, earnings fell on lower energy prices

(Adds comments from chief executive on price environment, coronavirus)

By Nina Chestney

LONDON, March 12 (Reuters) – Danish energy trading company Danske Commodities on Thursday reported higher revenues for last year on increased trading volumes, although low wholesale energy prices pushed its earnings lower.

Danske Commodities specialises in trading across 39 power markets and 23 gas markets. It was bought by oil and gas major Equinor in 2018.

Revenue rose 7% to 10.046 billion euros ($11.37 billion) in 2019 from 9.377 billion euros a year earlier as the firm boosted trading volumes by 39% due to increased automation, it said.

The increased trading volumes, however, were offset by lower energy prices last year, with a relatively mild winter and reduced demand in Asia resulting in a sharp fall in wholesale gas prices.

Cheaper renewables, more hydropower and lower electricity demand also reduced power prices and margins.

Earnings before income and tax (EBIT) were 50.2 million euros, down 30% from 71.8 million in 2018.

“Our business model is not dependent on high or low prices but spreads narrow when prices become low,” Danske Commodities’ Chief Executive Helle Østergaard Kristiansen told Reuters.

Global gas prices have fallen to record lows over the past year, while the coronavirus pandemic has raised concerns about industrial production and demand in the year to come.

Danske Commodities had a good start to this year and positioned itself for a falling market and under normal circumstances would expect better results in 2020 than last year, Kristiansen said.

“Now prices are extremely low. With the coronavirus, we can see consumption patterns changing radically now. We also see people preparing for this by taking risk off their books,” she said, adding that this could lead to liquidity disappearing in the market.

Denmark will close all schools and universities and will start sending home all employees in the public sector with non-critical jobs in the coming days to curb the spread of the coronavirus, Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said last night.

$1 = 0.8835 euros Reporting by Nina Chestney; Editing by Kirsten Donovan and Tom Hogue

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