American Electric Power Company, Inc. (AEP)

Q2 2010 Earnings Call Transcript

July 30, 2010 9:00 am ET

Executives

Chuck Zebula – SVP, IR and Treasurer

Mike Morris – Chairman, President, and CEO

Brian Tierney – EVP and CFO

Analysts

Dan Eggers – Credit Suisse

Jonathan Arnold – Deutsche Bank

Greg Gordon – Morgan Stanley

Leslie Rich – JPMorgan

Ali Aga – SunTrust Robinson

Hugh Wynne – Sanford Bernstein

Annie Tsao – AllianceBernstein

Brian Chin – Citigroup

Michael Lapides – Goldman Sachs

Paul Patterson – Glenrock Associates

Andrew Levi – Tudor Pickering

Ryan Mooney – Duquesne Capital

Presentation

Operator

Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for standing by. Welcome to the second quarter 2010 earnings conference call. At this time, all participants are in a listen-only mode. Later, we will conduct a question-and-answer session. (Operator Instructions). As a reminder, this conference is being recorded.

I would now like to turn the conference over to host, Treasurer and Senior Vice President, Investor Relations, Mr. Chuck Zebula. Please go ahead, sir.

Chuck Zebula

Thank you, Bob. Good morning and welcome to the second quarter 2010 earnings webcast of American Electric Power. Our earnings release and related financial information are available on our website aep.com. The presentation slides are also available on our website.

Today, we will be making forward-looking statements during the call. There are many factors that may cause future results to differ materially from these statements. Please refer to our SEC filings for a discussion of the factors that may cause results to differ from management's forecast.

Joining me this morning are Mike Morris, our Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Officer; and Brian Tierney, our Chief Financial Officer. We will take your questions following their remarks.

I will now turn the call over to Mike.

Mike Morris

Thanks, Chuck and good morning, everyone. Thank you very much for joining us for our second quarter update. We had a $0.74 per share quarter on ongoing earnings, something that we are very pleased with, clearly above what appeared to be the consensus forecast of how we would do. There are really some very interesting load issues that were contributors to that and Brian will give you some granularity about that as we go forward. And like most of the other reporting utilities, for the quarter, our best has been the weather, and that's been good to us as well.

We've talked at length about how we would manage operating and maintenance expenses at American Electric Power over the last handful of years. And as we looked at the results of the first quarter and early into the second quarter, as you know, we decided to take relatively dramatic actions on that front, which will help us not only in 2010 to achieve our earnings range targets, but should help us going forward for the next two or four-year cycle, and we feel that our team is prepared to continue to demonstrate the discipline that will get us there.

When we look very closely at 2010, we are confident with our earnings guidance range of $2.80 to $3.20. I'm sure that many of you might like to tip up on that scale [ph]. We don't feel that now is the time to do that. If we decide to make an adjustment in that guidance range, it would after we see the third quarter, because again, as Brain will share with you, there have been some ups, there have some downs, and there have been some flatness in the demand as we look at energy consumption throughout the United States, the macroeconomic issues that you hear about and we hear about.

Some say "no chance for a second dip," some say "for sure," consumer confidence is low, retail spending is low, and many of the things that we look at and control those decisions are telling us, "let's be Midwest conservative," and that's exactly what we intend to do.

On the regulatory front, we have $300 million rate adjustments in hand to date of the $320 million target number that we began the year with and we feel very, very comfortable with the number of pending issues still being reviewed that will meet or exceed that $320 million target that we began 2010 with. That really tells you a great deal about the value of regulatory diversity.

We've had some jurisdictions where things have gone surprisingly well and others where they haven’t gone as well – in fact, they've been somewhat disappointing. But the diversity surely has proven to be a benefit as I know that many of you realize. In fact, over the last six years, we've either met or exceeded our target, because of that regulatory diversity and I would argue that that shows some of the logic of the scale and size of the footprint that American Electric Power has.

A couple of specific issues on the regulatory update. The Ohio SEET activity continues apace. As you know, Duke Energy had sought rehearing on the original order of the SEET structure and the PUCO decided that it would make no sense to begin hearings on something that was already up for a rehearing.

So they intend to settle the rehearing issue first and then go ahead and process the SEET cases as they suggested. They've moved the filing date to September 1. We are prepared to file at that time. I continue to believe that no matter what the outcome is, it will be extremely digestible for us, it will keep us within that $280 million to $320 million range and it will give us a good path forward so that we can stay within the 2% to 4% growth target that we've spoken to you about as we look at 2011, 2012, and years beyond.

When it comes to the TURK update, we continue to build on-time, under budget, and with as much safety focus as I would hope you would expect that we would have and we continue to defend in every court, in every jurisdiction wherever those who would not like to see this coal plant built or forward. I know that you all know that we have chosen the merchant approach or the non-rate treatment approach with the 88 megawatts that are focused for our customers in Arkansas. And so be it. We feel that's a very supportable and in fact, appropriate way to go.

We are still going to take the output of the TURK station to our Louisiana customers and Texas customers through the certificates that were issued in those states. As I mentioned, we will continue to defend and continue to build and we know that an ultra-supercritical plant is necessary for this country, necessary for our customers, necessary for our company, and we will continue to pursue that with all vigor.

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