CEO Bruce Williamson, in a much-anticipated public debut, told investors exactly what they wanted to hear on Tuesday.
Taking center stage at his first conference call with investors, Dynegy's celebrated new CEO promised that the company is "not in bankruptcy mode" and has adequate cash -- at least until mid-2003.
"We are in restructuring mode outside of bankruptcy," said Williamson, a recent transplant from industry giant
Dynegy investors, starved for hope, gobbled up the news. In a frantic trading session, buyers sent Dynegy shares soaring by 75% to close at $1.35. The rally came just days after Dynegy warned that its battered, sub-$1 share price could threaten its listing on the
New York Stock Exchange
. The company now must keep its stock above $1 for an extended period to fight off delisting.
For now, Dynegy is touting a boost to liquidity -- which currently totals $1.5 billion -- from recent asset sales. But the company has admitted in regulatory filings that its future liquidity depends, at least in part, on the strength of its earnings.
After unwinding its trading operation, which has taken a disastrous turn since the downfall of Enron, Dynegy will look entirely to its asset-based businesses to generate cash.
, suffering from trading woes of its own, weathered a much rockier session Tuesday. Shares of the Texas-based utility slid 7.3% to $14.43 on news that its troubled European unit has sought bankruptcy protection. The bankruptcy filing only compounds the problems at TXU, which on Monday disclosed stiff new financing terms an informal probe by the
Securities and Exchange Commission
fared better, despite mounting evidence that NRG -- the company's unregulated subsidiary -- will probably follow TXU Europe into bankruptcy protection. Christopher Ellinghaus, an analyst at Williams Capital, warned Tuesday of possible repercussions for the parent if that happens.
"Without a bankruptcy agreement with creditors, the risk remains that creditors could pursue the piercing of Xcel's corporate veil," Ellinghaus said in a research note. "While the likelihood of recourse to Xcel appears somewhat remote, investors should remain cautious regarding the ultimate financial ramifications of NRG's demise to the parent."
Investors chose to look the other way. Shares of Minnesota-based Xcel climbed 4.9% to close Tuesday at $9.86.