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Westar Energy's CEO Discusses Q1 2012 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

Tony will offer highlights on the quarter, comment on earnings guidance and provide an updated on major projects. Mark will then comment on regulatory activities, EPA regulations and a few other thoughts on our business.

With that I'll turn the call over to Tony.

Tony Somma – Chief Financial Officer

Thanks, Bruce. Good morning. The drivers for the quarter were pretty straight forward extremely mild winter weather, unplanned outage expenses and proceeds from COLI.

Earnings and earnings per share for the quarter were $27 million and $0.21 respectively compared with $31 million and $0.27 in 2011. Earnings for Q1 2011 included about $1 million or $0.01 per share one-time expenses related to settling a legal dispute last year.

EPS for the quarter also reflect additional shares issued to fund investment in utility infrastructure. Gross margin was down $7 million or 2%, signal such a lower retail sales largely from very mild weather as measured by heating degree days, weather for the quarter was the warmest in over 50 years.

On the expense side, O&M was about $11 million or 11% higher, excluding a $7 million increase in SPP transmission costs, most of which has a revenue offset. Principal reasons for the higher O&M were $9 million for increased maintenance at Wolf Creek from both the unplanned outage and higher amortization expenses for last spring’s refill and maintenance outage and a $2 million increase in property taxes, which has a revenue offset.

The combined O&M and SG&A, excluding SPP transmission costs and the one-time legal costs, were 8% higher for the quarter, but in line with full year plans and guidance. Depreciation expense increased $3 million in line with guidance and largely reflecting plant additions.

Other income increased by $11 million due primarily to the benefit of $9 million of COLI proceeds. As we've shared with you for some time, we've planned to satisfy external capital needs for the next year or so with debt.

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