DTE Energy Company (DTE)

Q2 2010 Earnings Call Transcript

July 30, 2010 9:00 am ET

Executives

Dave Meador – EVP and CFO

Peter Oleksiak – VP, Controller

Nick Khouri – Treasurer

Analysts

Kevin Cole – Credit Suisse

Reza Hatefi – Decade Capital

Jim Von Reesman [ph] – UBS

Michael Worms – BMO

Daniele Seitz – Dudack Research

Presentation

Operator

Good day, everyone, and welcome to the DTE Energy second quarter 2010 earnings conference call. Today’s conference is being recorded. At this time, I’d like to turn the conference over to David Meador. Please go ahead, sir.

Dave Meador

Thank you, and good morning to everybody, and welcome to our second quarter conference call. Before we get started, I encourage you to read the Safe Harbor statement on page two, including the reference to forward-looking statements.

With me this morning are Peter Oleksiak, our Controller; Nick Khouri, our Treasurer; and Mark Rolling, who is our new Director of Investor Relations. Mark has recently taken over from Lisa Muschong, who was promoted to Corporate Secretary.

Before we get started I’d just like to congratulate Lisa on her well deserved promotion and recognize her for the outstanding job she’s done leading her Investor Relations group. She’ll do great in this new assignment. I also have with me members of the management team that I might call on during the Q&A session. So let me get started on page 5 with an overview.

We remain focused on the elements of our investment thesis and believe that DTE Energy is a very attractive investment driven by a solid plan for 5% to 6% long-term growth. Coupled with our increased dividend of $2.24 per share, which I’ll talk about in a moment, we provide a very attractive total shareholder return. The growth plan for our utilities is driven by federal and state mandated investments and is not dependent on increases in demand for electric load or natural gas.

At Detroit Edison there are four key areas of investment over the next three years. The first is renewable energy, where we will spend a total of $300 million to $400 million between now and 2012. The second is the environmental expenditures, where we plan to spend $500 million to $600 million over that time frame. Our energy efficiency program calls for $100 million in investment.

And finally, we will invest $2.1 billion to $2.3 billion in our base infrastructure in Detroit Edison over the next three years. At MichCon we will invest $400 million to $500 million over that timeframe on base infrastructure and growth projects. So in total when you put it together, we’re planning between $3.4 billion and $3.9 billion in CapEx for our two utilities over the next three years.

Performance of the two utilities is supported by a very constructive regulatory structure in the state here. Combined with our continued cost savings this will enable us to earn our authorized return.

We’ve successfully utilized the regulatory process that was legislated in 2008, and we received constructive rate orders at Detroit Edison in January of this year, and then at MichCon last month, and earlier this week we filed a $51 million rate case at MichCon. To maintain this constructive regulatory environment, it’s imperative that we focus on the needs of our customers by ensuring lowest possible rates and providing the highest level of customer service.

In the past, you’ve heard me talk about the strong continuous improvement culture we’re creating at DTE Energy and our how engaged our workforce has been in using continuous improvement tools to significantly reduce our O&M cost, and improve operating performance.

We are now applying those same tools to drive improvements in our customers’ experience and realize more efficient capital spending. Combined we believe this will help us to minimize future rate increases and drive higher customer satisfaction.

Our non-utility businesses continue to provide growth opportunities as well as diversify our earnings. From a growth perspective, we are focusing on opportunities in our Gas Storage and Pipelines, where we are well situated to take advantage of the Marcellus Shale gas flows, and in the Power and Industrial business where we see near-term growth, predominantly in the area of renewable energy.

Here we are acquiring and converting small coal plants to waste wood. The Power and Industrial team is also working on some interesting mid and long-term projects that we are pretty excited about and we look forward to talking more about that this fall.

Now, turning to slide number 6. Our earnings for the quarter came in at $0.39 per share, $0.17 below last year. The reduction in earnings is primarily the result of lower earnings at Energy Trading, and also at Corporate and Other where we had one-time savings in 2009, as well as a number of one-time cost reductions we took in early 2009 in response to the economic crisis.

Due to the lumpy timing that occurred in 2009, I think a better comparison of year-to-date actual results would be to our 2010 guidance. Given the year-to-date results, we remain confident that we are on track to meet our operating guidance for the year. In fact, when you look at the six months year-to-date over six months of the prior year, we are actually up over 9% year-over-year.

The local economy continues to show signs of improvement. Temperature normalized, electric load is up 4% in the second quarter. This is lead by the industrial sector where we saw load increase over 29% as manufacturing is back up in Michigan after the swift auto bankruptcies of last year.

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