Exelon (EXC)

Q4 2010 Earnings Call

January 26, 2011 11:00 am ET


Anne Pramaggiore - President of ComEd and Chief Operating Officer of ComEd

Frank Clark - Chairman of the Commonwealth Edison Company and Chief Executive Officer of Commonwealth Edison Company

Stacie Frank - Vice President of Investor Relations

Christopher Crane - President, Chief Operating Officer and President of Exelon Generation

Joseph Dominguez - Senior Vice President of Communications, Federal Regulatory Affairs & Public Policy and Senior Vice President of State Governmental Affairs for Exelon Generation

Kenneth Cornew - Senior Vice President and President of Power Team

John Rowe - Chairman, Chief Executive Officer, Chairman of PECO, Chairman of Exelon Enterprises, Chairman of Exelon Energy Delivery and President of Exelon Generation

Matthew Hilzinger - Chief Financial Officer and Senior Vice President


Michael Lapides - Goldman Sachs Group Inc.

Dan Eggers - Crédit Suisse AG

Paul Fremont - Jefferies & Company, Inc.

Jonathan Arnold - Deutsche Bank AG

Julien Dumoulin-Smith - UBS Investment Bank

Hugh Wynne - Bernstein Research

Steven Fleishman - BofA Merrill Lynch



Ladies and gentlemen, thank you taking for standing by, and welcome to the Exelon Fourth Quarter Earnings Conference Call. [Operator Instructions] I would now like to turn the conference over to Stacie Frank, Vice President of Investor Relations. You may begin your conference.

Stacie Frank

Thank you, Lynn, and good morning, everyone. Welcome to Exelon's Fourth Quarter 2010 Earnings Conference Call. Thank you for being with us today. We issued our earnings release this morning, which is available on our website at www.exeloncorp.com.

The earnings release and other matters we will discuss in today's call contain forward-looking statements and estimates that are subject to various risks and uncertainties, as well as adjusted non-GAAP operating earnings. Please refer to today's 8-K and Exelon's other filings for a discussion of factors that may cause these results to differ from management's projections, forecasts and expectations and for a reconciliation of our operating to GAAP earnings.

Leading the call today are John Rowe, Exelon's Chairman and Chief Executive Officer; and Matt Hilzinger, Exelon's Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer. They are joined by other members of Exelon's senior management team, who will be available to answer your questions.

We've scheduled 60 minutes for this morning's call. I will now turn the call over to John Rowe, Exelon's CEO.

John Rowe

Good morning, everyone. Thank you, Stacie. Happy new year.

2010 was another year of fine operating and financial performance for Exelon. I'll start with some of the key factors. As you know, from our earnings release, our operating earnings were $4.06 per share, handily beating our original expectations for the year and at the top end of the range we provided you last quarter.

We accomplished this through a strict attention to cost control across the business. We met our target for operating O&M for 2010, despite starting the year with pension and OPEB expense that was $35 million higher than 2009 and a challenge in our budget of $100 million to offset rising costs. This was our second straight year of delivering O&M below the 2008 level of $4.5 billion. Revenues in Exelon Generation were helped by better-than-expected market conditions across the portfolio. Higher capacity prices from the scheduled reset of PJM capacity rate were expected but nonetheless helped in delivering on our commitments.

At both ComEd and PECO, weather effects, particularly in the summer months increased earnings over last year by about $0.16 per share. I would point out that we saw very little load growth in either company, although, we're always a little uncertain about our weather I just mentioned. There may be a little more than we're seeing, but it was basically very close to flat.

We generated cash from operations of $5.3 billion, $1 million more than our original expectations. Our higher net income, our tax planning work and cash benefits from bonus depreciation were the primary drivers. Our cash generation in 2010 allowed us to contribute $765 million to the pension plans, including a $500 million voluntary contribution last August. Separately, we contributed $200 million to our OPEB plans. And of course, the best thing of all, is that we returned $1.4 billion to our shareholders through the dividend, which we held stable at $2.10 per share.

In operations, both ComEd and PECO maintained strong performance, while managing costs despite intense storms. In each case, we were a little disappointed in the duration indices, although I believe we're either in first quartile or close to it. But we were very pleased by our frequency of interruption. ComEd achieved its highest customer satisfaction scores in more than five years, and PECO had its best ever customer satisfaction scores. Exelon Nuclear turned in its eighth consecutive year of capacity factors over 93%. While that starts to sound routine, it's simply isn't. The management focus that goes into consistent operations at these levels, with a fleet our size, is a clear competitive advantage for Exelon.

We added 59 megawatts of new nuclear generation to the fleet through our uprate plan. We have another 98 megawatts projected to be added in 2011 across a number of sites including Limerick, LaSalle and Quad Cities. For Exelon Power, 2010 marked our first acquisition of wind assets with the acquisition of John Deere Renewables, now, of course, called Exelon Wind. This portfolio positions us as an important player in renewables policy-making. And as we told you before, we have long-term contracts to lock in our earnings expectation and cash flow. As was suggested in the President's speech last night, we have continued growth in requirements to purchase renewables. This puts Exelon in the place of selling as well as buying.

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