Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) reported a net income of P4.46 billion in the fourth quarter of 2017, higher by 27% compared with P3.5 billion a year earlier as new consumer accounts and high consumer spending boosted energy sales, the distribution utility said on Monday, Feb. 26.

“[Fourth-quarter 2017] sales volume [at 10,701 gigawatt-hours] is 7% higher than 10,039 GWh in the fourth quarter of 2016 mainly due to new residential accounts and ramp-up of accounts energized in 2016 complemented by high consumer spending,” said Betty C. Siy-Yap, Meralco senior vice-president and chief finance officer, in a press conference.

Adjusted for one-time, exceptional transactions, core net income rose by 5% to P4.84 billion from P4.62 billion previously.

“For the commercial sector, the real estate, hotels and restaurants and retail trade drove the volume growth,” Mr. Siy-Yap said. “On the industrial front, semiconductor, basic metals, food and beverage industries continued to provide additional volumes.”

For full-year 2017, Meralco recorded a 3% rise in core net income at P20.2 billion, before exceptional items. Reported net income was up 6% to P20.38 billion.

Core income excludes the effect of foreign exchange gains or losses, impairment charges, mark-to-market adjustments, gain on disposal of investment and other one-off items.

“2017 turned out to be another good year for Meralco,” said Oscar S. Reyes, Meralco president and chief executive officer, citing an improvement on both the commercial, operating and financial fronts.

Mr. Reyes attributed the increase to the “combined effects” of a growing customer base and positive economic conditions, with gross domestic product growth of 6.7%, moderate inflation at 3.2% and the softening of the peso at P49.93 to a dollar. He also cited stable power supply and lower power plant outages. — Victor V. Saulon