Mercury NZ reported a record $561 million in operating earnings on the back of record generation and high wholesale power prices.

The company, the country's third-largest power and gas retailer by accounts, reported a 27 per cent increase in net profit to $234 million for the year ended June 30, from $184 million a year earlier. Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, amortisation and changes in financial instruments rose to a record $561 million, up 7 per cent from $523 million a year earlier.

The Auckland-based company, which also operates five geothermal plants, has benefited from two years of above average inflows into its Waikato hydro catchment.

The nine power stations below Lake Taupo delivered 4,947 gigawatt-hours of electricity during the 12 months, almost 5 per cent more than the year before and the highest for the catchment since 1996. Mercury's total generation rose 2.3 per cent to a record 7,704 GWh.

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The company raised its earnings forecasts four times since October on the back of those strong inflows and in May started a $50 million on-market share buyback given the firm's low debt levels and the record full-year earnings expected.

It raised its ebitdaf forecast to between $540 million and $555 million on June 16.

The company plans to pay a second-half dividend of 9.1 cents per share, up from 8.8 cents a year earlier, on Sept. 28.

That takes total dividends for the year to 15.1 cents, from 19.6 cents last year, which included a special dividend of 5 cents per share.

- BusinessDesk