The AES Management Discusses Q4 2011 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

The AES (AES)

Q4 2011 Earnings Call

February 27, 2012 10:00 am ET

Executives

Ahmed Pasha - Vice President of Investor Relations

Victoria D. Harker - Chief Financial Officer, Executive Vice President and President of Global Business Services

Andrew Martin Vesey - Chief Operating Officer of Utilities

Edward C. Hall - Chief Operating Officer of Generation

Analysts

Julien Dumoulin-Smith - UBS Investment Bank, Research Division

Ali Agha - SunTrust Robinson Humphrey, Inc., Research Division

Gregg Orrill - Barclays Capital, Research Division

Brian J. Russo - Ladenburg Thalmann & Co. Inc., Research Division

Maura A. Shaughnessy - MFS Investment Management, Inc.

Carlos Rodriguez

Unknown Analyst

Raymond M. Leung - Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Research Division

Presentation

Operator

Good morning. Thank you, all, for standing by. [Operator Instructions] Today's conference is being recorded. If you do have any objections, you may disconnect at this time. [Operator Instructions] I would now like to turn the call over to Ahmed Pasha, Vice President of Investor Relations. Thank you, and you may begin.

Ahmed Pasha

Thank you, Angie, and welcome to our Fourth Quarter Earnings Call. We appreciate you being us this morning. Joining me today are Andres Gluski, our President and CEO; Victoria Harker, our Chief Financial Officer; our Chief Operating Officer for Generation, Ned Hall; and Andrew Vesey, our Chief Operating Officer for Utilities; and other senior members of our management.

Before we begin our presentation, let me remind you that our comments today will include forward-looking statements, which are subject to certain risks. For a complete discussion of these risks, we encourage you to read our documents on file with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Our presentation is webcast, and the slides are available on our website, which you can get at www.aes.com, under Investor Relations.

With that, I would like to turn the call over to Andres Gluski, our Chief Executive Officer. Andres?

Victoria D. Harker

Thanks, Andres, and good morning, everyone. I'd like to briefly cover the following topics: 2011 full year results and the comparison to guidance; fourth quarter results, including key operating drivers; earnings per share, cash from operations and free cash flow and parent liquidity; and then finally, our 2012 guidance.

As Andres mentioned, we met or exceeded our 2011 guidance targets for all key financial metrics. Our adjusted earnings per share of $1.04 represents a 6% increase over 2010 and exceeds our guidance range. Importantly, AES' 2011 proportional free cash flow of $932 million is also at the high end of our range, allowing us to achieve an all-time high for subsidiary distributions of more than $1.3 billion.

Key drivers of this performance are the contributions of several new businesses, which came online in 2011; strong demand and volume growth in Latin America; as well as favorable foreign currency exchange rates. These positive trends offset the expense related to the acquisition of Dayton Power & Light, the impacts of the reserves required for the terror-free sale at Eletropaulo in Brazil, coupled with lower volumes and rates at several of our European businesses.

As a reminder, as we discussed on our third quarter earnings call, we had anticipated that the tariff in Eletropaulo was to be reset in July 2011, impacting the next 4 years. Although the formal tariff notification is still pending, we expect it to be finalized by July 2012, retroactive to July 2011. Given that most of the terms of the tariff have now been determined by the regulator, we've been accruing for the projected impact of these changes since July 2011.

As also previously mentioned last quarter, this cost is approximately $104 million per quarter, resulting in an earnings per share impact of $0.015.

Now let's discuss results for the fourth quarter in greater detail, starting with the most significant drivers of operating results. There are 3 key operating trends to highlight in our fourth quarter results.

First, we recorded higher volumes at our Generation businesses in Latin America, particularly in Brazil, Colombia and Chile, compared to the same period last year. In particular, at GSA in Brazil, volumes grew 2% due to favorable weather conditions and higher demand at Eletropaulo.

Gener, with 4800 megawatts in operation in Chile and Colombia, also recorded higher electricity volumes due to beneficial weather and hydrological conditions, as well as continued energy demand growth supporting mining activities in the north of Chile.

Second, in Panama, we benefited from higher energy spot prices due to the demand growth of approximately 5% and system supply constraints elsewhere, as well as business interruption insurance proceeds.

Third, our new businesses also added to our strong fourth quarter results. These include the Maritza facility in Bulgaria and the Angamos power plant in Chile, which commenced operations in June and April 2011, respectively. Both of these businesses made first-time contributions to fourth quarter results in 2011, as did DP&L.

Turning to our quarterly earnings per share. During the fourth quarter, adjusted earnings per share declined by $0.02 to $0.23. This was the result of the DP&L expenses incurred prior to closing, with an impact of approximately $0.06, which offset the positive operating trends I just outlined.

Similarly, compared to a year earlier, diluted earnings per share from continuing operations declined $0.04 to $0.12 for the quarter, driven by positive operating performance in Latin America, but offset by DP&L transaction costs and unrealized foreign currency losses.

Now to address cash flow. I'm pleased to report that we achieved our guidance targets on all of our cash flow metrics for the year. This is a very positive indicator of our healthy and growing operations. However, our cash flows from operations and free cash flow metrics declined from 2010 to 2011 on both a consolidated and proportional basis.

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