Xcel Energy, Inc. ( XEL)

Q4 2010 Earnings Call

January 27, 2011 11:00 am ET


Paul Johnson - Managing Director of IR and Assistant Treasurer

Ben Fowke - President and COO

Dave Sparby - VP and CFO

Teresa Madden - VP and Controller

Scott Wilensky - VP, Regulatory and Resource Planning

George Tyson - VP and Treasurer


Michael Worms - BMO

Paul Ridzon - KeyBanc

Travis Miller - Morningstar

Ali Agha - SunTrust Robinson Humphrey

Ashar Khan - Visium Asset Management

Neil Kalton - Wells Fargo Securities

Jonathan Arnold - Deutsche Bank

Daniele Seitz - Dudack Research

Dan Jenkins - The State of Wisconsin Investment Board

James Bellessa - D.A. Davidson and Company

Mike Bates - D.A. Davidson and Company



Welcome to the Xcel Energy fourth quarter 2010 earnings conference call. (Operator Instructions) As a reminder, today's conference is being recorded today, January 27, 2011.

I would now like to turn the call over to Paul Johnson, Managing Director of Investor Relations and Assistant Treasurer.

Paul Johnson

Thank you and welcome to Xcel Energy's yearend 2010 earnings release conference call. I am Paul Johnson. With me today are Ben Fowke, President and Chief Operating Officer; Dave Sparby, Vice President and Chief Financial Officer; Teresa Madden, Vice President and Controller; Scott Wilensky, Vice President, Regulatory and Resource Planning; and George Tyson, Vice President and Treasurer.

Today we plan to cover our 2010 yearend quarter results, provide a business update and reaffirm our 2011 guidance. Please note there are slides that accompany the conference call which are available on our web page.

I want to remind you that some of the comments that we make today will contain forward-looking information. Significant factors that could cause results to differ from those anticipated are described in our earnings release and in our filings with the SEC.

You'll note that today's press release refers to both GAAP and ongoing earnings. 2010 ongoing earnings per share were $1.62 compared with $1.50 per share in 2009. 2010 GAAP earnings per share were $1.62 compared with $1.48 in 2009.

We believe that ongoing earnings, which remove the impact of our discontinued company-owned life insurance program, Medicare Part D and discontinued operations provide a meaningful comparison. As a result we will discuss ongoing earnings during this call. Please see our earnings release for a detailed reconciliation of GAAP and ongoing earnings results.

I'll now turn the call over to Ben Fowke.

Ben Fowke

Thanks, Paul, and good morning everyone. I'm pleased to announce that Xcel Energy enjoyed another successful year. I'll touch on few of the highlights and Dave will discuss our detailed results in a few moments.

As Paul just mentioned, we reported 2010 ongoing earnings of $1.62 per share compared with a $1.50 per share in 2009. We feel good about delivering earnings results in the upper half of our 2010 earnings guidance range of $1.55 to $1.65 per share. This marks the sixth consecutive year that we've met or exceeded our annual earnings objective.

We were also successful in meeting other financial objectives. We raised the annual dividend $0.03 or 30% to $1.01 per share, and our credit ratings also improved, as S&P raised its rating on Xcel Energy and three of our operating companies by one notch.

In a year where we experienced hot weather throughout our system, I am proud that we maintained our system integrity and once again delivered a high level of customer service. We achieved a customer satisfaction rating of 92% for the third consecutive year.

In 2010, we completed two major construction projects: Comanche 3, an 800-megawatt coal plant in Colorado; and Nobles, a 201-megawatt wind farm in Minnesota. We also began construction on the CapX2020 transmission project.

In addition, we finalized the purchase of two natural gas plants in Calpine. This asset acquisition will save our customers' money in the long run and will also be accretive to 2011 earnings. We were able to finance this transaction and other components of our growth strategy by raising $1.9 billion in the debt and equity market at very attractive rates.

Lastly, I'll provide a few comments regarding the Clean Air Clean Jobs Act in Colorado. In December, the Colorado Commission approved a plan for PSCO to reduce annual emissions of nitrogen oxide by at least 70% to 80%. The plan is designed to achieve this goal through a combination of retiring older, less efficient coal plants, returning to natural gas and installing emission controls by 2017.

The primary difference between our recommendation and the CPUC approved plan has to do with Cherokee Unit 4. Under the approved plan, we will fuel switch Cherokee Unit 4 to natural gas.

The Commission also provided for a recovery on construction work in progress and future rate cases. In addition, they incurred stakeholder meetings to discuss a multiyear rate plan.

In January, the Colorado Air Quality Control Commission approved the cooperation of the Clean Air Clean Jobs plan into Colorado's Regional Haze State Implementation Plan. Next in the process, the Colorado legislature must approve the State Implementation Plan. Upon legislative approval, the State Implementation Plan will be sent to the Governor for his signature.

Our total investment for the plan is estimated to be approximately $1 billion over the next seven years and is expected to increase customer bills on an average by about 2% annually.

I think this is another great example of our ability to work with key stakeholders to arrive at a creative solution to reduce emission while ensuring timely recovery of cost. In summary, this was a really great year for us.

Read the rest of this transcript for free on seekingalpha.com

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