Europe's largest utility E.ON has told investors that its earnings before tax for 2006 will beat 2005 figures but that its profits will be down on the previous year, AFX News has reported.

The Germany power firm’s chief executive, Wulf Bernotat, made the revelation to a gathering at the German Investment Seminar in New York, although further details have not been reported.

Mr Bernotat also took the opportunity to spell out the firm’s plans for the coming year, stating that the company, which already owns a business in the UK and is looking to acquire Endesa in Spain, now wants to expand into eastern Europe, with Turkey and Russia key target regions.

The E.ON chief added that the Dusseldorf-headquartered business wanted to break into the LNG sector, an area similarly coveted by Gazprom.

Meanwhile, Mr Bernotat warned that about 22% of the forecasted gas needs in western Europe by 2020 were not currently secured. As a result of this, E.ON wants to increase the diversity of its supply and increase the amount of gas it sources internally.