SCANA's CEO Discusses Q4 2011 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

SCANA Corporation ( SCG)

Q4 2011 Earnings Call

February 15, 2012, 2:00 p.m. ET

Executives

Byron Hinson – Director, Financial Planning and Investor Relations

Jimmy Addison – CFO

Steve Byrne – COO

Analysts

David Paus – Bank of America/Merrill Lynch

Jim von Riesemann – UBS

Travis Miller – Morningstar, Inc.

John Ali – Decade Capital

Michael Lapides – Goldman Sachs

Jay Dobson – Wunderlich Securities

Andrew Levi – Caris & Co.

Ashar Khan – Visium

Paul Patterson – Glenrock Associates

Dan Jenkins – State of Wisconsin

(Usman Aragondia – Catopal Capital)

Tim Winter – Gabelli & Co.

Presentation

Operator

Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for standing by. My name is Denise, and I will be your conference facilitator today. At this time, I would like to welcome everyone to the SCANA Corporation Conference Call. All lines have been placed on mute to prevent any background noise. After the speakers’ remarks, there will be a question-and-answer period. (Operator Instructions).

As a reminder, this conference call is being recorded on Wednesday, February 15, 2012. Anyone who does not consent to the taping may drop off the line.

At this time, I would like to turn the call over to Byron Hinson, Director of Financial Planning and Investor Relations.

Byron Hinson

Thank you. I’d like to welcome everyone to our earnings conference call, including those who are joining us on the webcast. As you know, earlier today we announced financial results for the fourth quarter and full-year of 2011.

Joining us on the call today are Jimmy Addison, SCANA’s Chief Financial Officer and Steve Byrne, Chief Operating Officer of SCE&G. The slides and the earnings release that we’ll refer to in this call are available at scana.com.

Before I turn the call over to Jimmy, I would like to remind you that certain statements that may be made during today’s call, which are not statements of historical facts are considered forward-looking statements and are subject to a number of risk and uncertainties, which are shown on slide two and discussed in the company’s SEC filings. The company does not recognize obligation to update any forward-looking statements.

Finally, as noted on slide two, we may disclose certain non-GAAP measures during this presentation and the required Reg G information can be found in the slides used in conjunction with this earnings call.

I’ll now turn the call over to Jimmy.

Jimmy Addison

Thanks Byron, and thank you all for joining us today. During today’s call, we will discuss our financial results for the fourth quarter and the full-year of 2011, and provide an update on our outlook for 2012. Additionally, Steve will provide an update on our nuclear project.

Let’s start on Slide 3, which reflects SCANA’s 2011 full-year basic earnings per share of 3.01 compared to $2.99 per share in 2010. Increases in electric margin from rate increases under the Base Load Review Act, and lower operating and maintenance expenses were partially offset by lower gas margins, higher interest, property tax and depreciation expense and share dilution.

Our results were within our 2011 guidance of 2.95 to 3.10 per share, and only $0.01 below our internal target of 3.02. The mild weather in Georgia cost us approximately $0.01 in December.

I’ll remind you that 2010 includes $0.07 of weather prior to the implementation of electric weather normalization, resulting in weather normalized earnings of $2.92. You can reference the appendix on Slide 18 for a reconciliation from GAAP to weather normalized earnings.

Slide 4 shows the basic earnings in the fourth quarter of 2011 were $0.76 per share compared to $0.74 per share in the same quarter of 2010. While operation and maintenance expenses were lower in the current quarter, those benefits were offset by the anticipated cost of our capital program, higher interest, property tax, and depreciation expense along with related share dilution.

Now on Slide 5, I’d like to review results for our principal lines of business. South Carolina Electric and Gas Company’s full-year 2011 earnings, denoted in blue, were up $0.04 compared to 2010. Improved margins from increases under the Base Load Review Act offset the increased capital related cost.

For the fourth quarter, SCE&G earnings were $0.02 lower than the same period last year, reflecting the aforementioned increased capital related cost. PSNC Energy’s earnings for 2011, shown in red, were $0.37 per share compared to $0.36 per share in 2010.

Fourth quarter 2011 earnings were flat over the same period in 2010. Increases in customer growth along with lower operating and maintenance expenses were partially offset by higher depreciation and property tax expense.

SCANA Energy, in green, reported lower earnings for the full year 2011, due principally to milder weather.

I’m pleased to report that SCANA Energy has again been selected to serve as the regulated provider for the state for the upcoming two-year term, covering September 2012 through August 2014. SCANA Energy has served as a regulated provider since the program’s inception in 2002.

SCANA’s corporate and other businesses reported a 2011 loss for the year of $0.01 per share and earnings for the quarter of $0.01 per share compared to losses of $0.03 and $0.02 per share respectively for 2010. The improvement is due to improved results in our communications business during 2011.

Slide 6 shows customer growth at our major subsidiaries. We experienced customer growth in our North and South Carolina regulated business, while Georgia, while the Georgia market saw a decrease in customer count over the prior year. We are pleased that our regulated businesses continue to yield organic growth. The reduction in Georgia is due to a loss of customers in our Regulated Provider program, which was partially offset by increased customer count in our deregulated sector.

Several marketers now have offerings such as a prepay service as an alternative to the regulated provider structure. Additionally, our analysis also shows that customers have been slower to connect their gas service this winter, due to the unseasonably mild temperatures.

Our Electric and Gas sales statistics can be found in the press release we filed earlier today and are available on our website.

On our weather normalize basis, electric residential sales are up approximately 1%. Industrial sales also saw improvement with an increase of a little more than 1%. Commercial sales continued to lag behind last year with a decrease of approximately 2% when weather normalized.

As we’ve mentioned previously, industrial growth typically leads, followed by residential, and then commercial. So it appears that some of the industrial activity in our area over the last couple of years has translated into residential consumption, but we’ve yet to see that in the commercial sector. These results were anticipated in our 2011 plan, and we’ve forecast similar patterns in 2012.

While we continue to see customer growth, we expect that customer usage will be slightly lower in 2012 as a result of demand side management programs, new lightbulb standards that are being phased in, more energy efficient air conditioners, and general conservation.

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