Italian group Enel says 2012 profit down by 79%

The biggest Italian energy group, Enel, said Wednesday that its 2012 net profit plunged by 79 percent owing mainly to a steep decrease in the book value of its Spanish unit Endesa.

Enel posted a net profit of 865 million euros ($1.1 billion) on sales that were 6.8 percent higher at 84.889 billion euros.

The group booked a depreciation of Endesa worth 2.584 billion euros, a statement said.

It quoted Enel chief executive Fulvio Conti as saying that "in 2012, the group's results were in line with the targets previously announced to investors, both in terms of EBITDA (core earnings) and net financial debt, despite continuing to operate in a challenging macroeconomic scenario, mainly in Italy and Spain.

Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization slipped by 4.9 percent to 16.738 billion euros, and was expected to fall further to about 16 billion euros this year, the company said, before rebounding to between 17-18 billion euros in 2017.

Ebitda is a figure that analysts track to determine the health of a company's core business.