TEP parent posts higher earnings, bright outlook

2013-11-07T00:00:00Z TEP parent posts higher earnings, bright outlookBy David Wichner Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
November 07, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Tucson Electric Power Co. parent UNS Energy Corp. beat analysts’ third-quarter earnings expectations thanks in part to a recent rate increase, but the company handily missed Wall Street’s revenue forecast.

The company said it expects earnings to increase in 2013 and keep rising in 2014 and 2015 as a recent TEP rate increase boosts revenues.

On Wednesday, UNS reported third-quarter 2013 net income of $68 million, or $1.62 per share, compared with net income of $50.7 million, or $1.21 per share in the same period last year and analysts’ average estimate of $1.60 per share.

Operating revenue totaled $437 million, up 0.7 percent from third-quarter 2012, but analysts polled by Thomson Financial Network had expected revenue of $490.5 million.

The company’s shares closed Wednesday at $49.25, down 16 cents, in trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

TEP’s retail power sales volume increased by 1.1 percent in the third quarter, due in part to an 8.9 percent increase in cooling degree days — a temperature-based measure of energy needed to cool a home or business — compared with the third quarter of 2012.

Higher base rates that went into effect in July and higher sales helped boost TEP’s third-quarter revenue 2.6 percent compared with 2012, the company said.

Including subsidiary UNS Electric, which serves Mohave and Santa Cruz counties, UNS Energy’s revenue from retail power sales rose 2.5 percent in the third quarter, but revenue from wholesale power sales and other revenues fell.

UNS Electric’s third-quarter net income dropped 17 percent from last year, to $5.3 million due partly to the loss of an industrial customer. UNS Gas reported a net loss of $1.3 million in the third quarter of 2013, due in part to higher operating and maintenance expenses.

UNS Energy estimated its 2013 earnings at between $2.95 and $3.10 per share, and 2014 earnings at $3.15 to $3.45 per share. The company also said it expects that 2015 earnings will be above 2014 levels.

UNS had not provided earnings forecasts since last year because of the uncertainty of the rate case.

The third-quarter results were in line with the company’s expectations under TEP’s new rate structure, UNS Energy Chairman and CEO Paul Bonavia said in a news release.

UNS Energy forecast that its earnings for 2013 will be $2.95 to $3.10 per share, and $3.15 to $3.45 per diluted share for 2014. The company said it expects that 2015 earnings will be above 2014 levels.

The outlook reflects a full year of TEP’s rate increase, a reduction in TEP’s capital-lease expense, flat retail sales and potentially higher operating expenses due to a heavy generating plant outage schedule, Bonavia said.

Efforts to diversify TEP’s generating resources should boost 2015 earnings above 2014 levels, he added.

TEP said last month it would cut the amount of coal-generated power it gets from the Springerville Generating Station by 2015 and anticipates the partial retirement of the coal-fired San Juan Generating Station in 2017.

TEP also announced it is in exclusive negotiations to purchase a 550-megawatt gas-fired generating unit at the Gila River Generating Station in Gila Bend by late 2014. That deal is still subject to final financial agreements and regulatory approvals.

If TEP’s plans come to fruition, the utility’s use of coal will drop by 15 percent by 2015 and, with the proposed shutdown of the San Juan units, another 10 percent by 2018, the company says.

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