A soaring market softened the blow for beleaguered energy companies reporting sour news on Tuesday.
quickly recovered from a brief dip after posting solid third-quarter growth but scaling back fourth-quarter earnings estimates.
weathered only a slight fall after startling the market with news that its audited second-quarter results, expected any day, will be delayed by two weeks and that third-quarter results are more than a month away. Even
-- the industry's newest whipping boy -- escaped a serious beating for a rumored $31 million missed payment by its flailing European subsidiary.
By midmorning, Dominion had tacked on $1.15 to hit $40.50, as the market chose to celebrate recent successes rather than dwell on a future downturn. The Virginia-based utility posted third-quarter earnings of $1.54 a share, hitting the high end of analyst expectations and beating results from a year ago by 25%.
"Our third-quarter results were very strong, especially under these very difficult market conditions," Dominion CEO Thomas Capps said. "If not for the anticipated dilution from the stock offering, we would be in solid position to meet our previously stated earnings guidance of $4.90 to $4.95 per share for the full year."
Dominion released plans Monday to issue 26.5 million new shares -- nearly 10% its current float -- in an effort to raise $1 billion and strengthen its balance sheet. The dilution is expected to lower fourth-quarter earnings to between $1.09 and $1.19 a share, short of the current mean estimate of $1.24 a share, and punish full-year earnings for 2002 and 2003 as well. Moody's announced Tuesday that the share offering won't affect Dominion's investment-grade credit rating, although the company's debt remains on negative outlook.
Meanwhile, Mirant saw its stock slip 10 cents to $1.11 over anxiety about its financial statements. The Atlanta company has been re-examining its books for months following the departure of Arthur Andersen as its independent auditor. The
Securities and Exchange Commission
is also examining the company's accounting.
TXU, hit hard this month for its failures in Europe, dropped another 10 cents to $12.84 after
reported that TXU Europe missed a $31 million payment for power provided by
, a struggling American peer. An unnamed industry source told
that he expects to see insolvency proceedings begin soon against TXU's European arm.
TXU surprised the market Monday when it backed away from its commitment to support its European operation, announcing plans to shed all or part of it instead. Until recently, TXU had been a dominant player in a European market rocked by fierce competition and low wholesale prices.