Hawaiian Electric Industries' CEO Discusses Q4 2011 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

Hawaiian Electric Industries, Inc. ( HE)

Q4 2011 Earnings Call

February 9, 2012 1:00 PM ET


Shelee Kimura – Manager, IR and Strategic Planning

Connie Lau – President and CEO

Jim Ajello – EVP, CFO and Treasurer

Richard Rosenblum – President and CEO, Hawaiian Electric Company, Inc.


Ashar Khan – Visium

Andrew Weisel – Macquarie Capital

Bryce Rowe – Robert W. Baird

David Paz – Bank of America Merrill Lynch

Jim Krapfel – Morningstar

Jackie Shemara – KBW



Good day, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to the 2011 and Fourth Quarter Hawaiian Electric Industries Earnings Conference Call. My name is Alisha, and I will be your operator for today. At this time, all participants are in a listen-only mode. We will conduct a question-and-answer session towards the end of the conference. (Operator Instruction) As a reminder, this conference is being recorded for replay purposes.

I would now like to introduce Ms. Shelee Kimura, Manager of Investor Relations and Strategic Planning. Please proceed Ma’am.

Shelee Kimura

Thank you, Alisha, and welcome to Hawaiian Electric Industries’ 2011 yearend and fourth quarter earnings conference call. I am Shelee Kimura, and joining me today are Connie Lau, HEI President and Chief Executive Officer; Jim Ajello, HEI Executive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer; Dick Rosenblum, Hawaiian Electric Company President and Chief Executive Officer; and Rich Wacker, American Savings Bank President and Chief Executive Officer, as well as other members of senior management.

Forward-looking statements will be made on today’s call. Please reference the accompanying disclosure to the webcast slides located on our website.

I’ll now turn the call over to our CEO, Connie Lau.

Connie Lau

Thank you, Shelee and aloha to everyone. I’m pleased to report that 2011 was a strong year for the company. Earnings per share was up 19% for the year. Similarly our 2011 consolidate ROE improved to 9.2% from 7.8% in 2010. The bank’s strong ROE of 12% contributed to the consolidated results as the utilities’ ROE of 7.3% continues to improve. The regulatory restructuring for our Oahu utility was largely completed this year. But we also recognize there is more to do. Our bank continued to deliver strong performance and increased earnings in a challenging regulatory and economic environment. Profitability metrics remains strong, credit quality improved and our loan portfolio improved.

Our bank is one of the better performing banks in its class across the country. Other result HE achieved a 22% total return to shareholders in 2011. We believe we are well positioned to continue to deliver attractive risk adjusted returns, good yield and earnings growth to our investors in 2012 and beyond.

Turning to slide three, our utilities worked with Hawaaii Public Utilities Commission to achieve several key milestones in 2011. We initiated the regulatory restructuring needed to align with the state’s clean energy policy with the commencement of the decoupling for our Oahu utility in March 2011. In July, we were granted an interim rate increase in our Oahu 2011 rate case. Under the three years cycle instituted under the couplings Oahu will not file for another rate case until the 2014 test year.

Our Maui utility filed a 2012 rate case and we are currently preparing to file the 2013 rate case this summer for our Hawaii Island facility. Late yesterday we received HELCO’s final decision for its 2010 rate case, which included the following key items. Approval of the couplings and allowed ROE of 10% which is consisted with HECO Oahu’s decoupling ROE and the setting of heat rate targets and debt bond also similar to HECO overall. As noted previously, the debt bound is expected to eliminate efficiency gained, which added 100 basis points to HECO earns returns in 2011. We will issue an 8-K shortly which will provide detail, but we wanted to provide you with a quick summary now.

We also initiated another program reviewed and improved by the PUC all of which contribute to our Clean Energy success including lower time of use rate per electric vehicle charging and now approximately one-third of new EV owners are taking advantage of this program. And Tier 3 of our feed-in tariff which focuses on larger generating units such as wind with projects ranging from 501 kilowatt up to 5 megawatts.

In 2011 we added 145 megawatts of renewables for a total of approximately 550 megawatt. In 2011, renewable energy supplied more than 10% of our customers’ energy use and as high as 40% on the Island of Oahu. Much of the renewable energy we are contracting for today is cost competitive with our fossil fuel generation and will provide long-term price stabilization for our customers.

In terms of customer bills it has gotten much harder for the average customer in the last year, but not from rate increases. On the Island of Oahu the typical electric bill went from $158 per month at the beginning of 2011 to $219 per month at the end of the year, an increase of 39% with $57 due to rise in fuel cost and $4 or just about 2% from rate increases and other adjustments such as the public benefits fund.

As this chart shows oil price increases have dramatically increased what our customer pay and as the overwhelming reason for higher builds and the reason that are state policy maker want to reduce of Hawaii’s dependence on oil. For those of you not familiar with the Hawaii oil situation, our prices are determined by the Asia-Pacific market and they have been significantly higher than the crude oil prices on the Mainland U.S. owing to the disruption occasions that is tragic earthquake and tsunami in 2010 in March, 2011. The dramatic reduction in nuclear production has increased regional demand for oil.

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