PPL's CEO Discusses Q1 2012 Results - Earnings Call Transcript


Q1 2012 Earnings Call

May 04, 2012 9:00 am ET


Joe Bergstein -

William H. Spence - Chairman, Chief Executive Officer, President and Chairman of Executive Committee

Paul A. Farr - Chief Financial Officer and Executive Vice President

Gregory N. Dudkin - President of The Pennsylvania Delivery Operation

David G. DeCampli - President and President of PPL Energy Supply LLC

Rick L. Klingensmith - President and Vice President of Finance


Dan Eggers - Crédit Suisse AG, Research Division

Kit Konolige - Konolige Research, LLC

Justin C. McCann - S&P Equity Research

Paul Patterson - Glenrock Associates LLC

Anthony C. Crowdell - Jefferies & Company, Inc., Research Division

Julien Dumoulin-Smith - UBS Investment Bank, Research Division

Andrew Bischof - Morningstar Inc., Research Division

Paul T. Ridzon - KeyBanc Capital Markets Inc., Research Division

Steven I. Fleishman - BofA Merrill Lynch, Research Division

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

Brian Chin - Citigroup Inc, Research Division

Ashar Khan



Good morning. My name is Matthew and I will be your conference operator today. At this time, I'd like to welcome everyone to the PPL Corporation First Quarter Conference Call. [Operator Instructions] Joe Bergstein, Director of Investor Relations. You may begin your conference.

Joe Bergstein

Good morning, everyone, and thank you for joining the PPL conference call on first quarter results and our general business outlook. We are providing slides of this presentation on our website at www.pplweb.com. Any statements made in this presentation, about future operating results or other future events, are forward-looking statements under the Safe Harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Actual results may differ materially from such forward-looking statements. A discussion of factors that could cause actual results or events to vary is contained in the appendix to this presentation and in the company's SEC filings.

At this time, I'd like to turn the call over to Bill Spence, PPL Chairman, President and CEO.

William H. Spence

Thanks, Joe and good morning, everyone. Thanks for joining us on the call today. We appreciate your continued interest in PPL, and as always, we look forward to answering your questions. To facilitate more interaction on these calls, we're going to be condensing our prepared remarks today and we also have all 4 business unit presidents with us for the Q&A. Joining us today are Vic Staffieri, President and Chief Executive Officer of LG&E and KU, which is our Kentucky Regulated segment; Rick Klingensmith, President of PPL Global, who has responsibility for our United Kingdom Regulated segment and our Energy Services business; Greg Dudkin, President of PPL Electric Utilities, our Pennsylvania Regulated segment; and Dave DeCampli, President of our Competitive Market Supply segment; and of course, Paul Farr is joining us, our CFO.

First I'll kick off the call with an overview of our first quarter results and operational highlights for the first 3 months of the year, then Paul will provide more details on our segment performance for the quarter. Following his remarks, we'll turn to your questions. With that, let's go ahead and get started.

Today we announced reported first quarter earnings of $0.93 per share, up from $0.82 in the first quarter of 2011. Earnings from ongoing operations for the quarter were $0.70 per share compared with $0.84 a share in the same period last year. Our first quarter earnings from ongoing operations reflect $0.14 per share of dilution from our April 2011 common stock issuance to finance our acquisition of the Midlands utilities in the U.K. As you can see in our segment results for the quarter, we had very strong performance in the U.K., including the successful integration of the Midlands operations. These quarterly results demonstrate the value of our expansion and into diversified regulatory jurisdictions and the attainment of a more predictable earnings profile. While our Competitive Supply segment has become a relatively smaller piece of the pie, our Supply team continues to successfully navigate through these very challenging commodity markets. Paul will go into additional details on a segment-by-segment basis but the weather-driven weakness in our Domestic Regulated businesses were offset by the strength of our U.K. operations and very good Supply segment performance.

So despite the impact of the mild winter, our first quarter results keep us solidly on track to achieve our 2012 earnings forecast. Today we are reaffirming our forecast of $2.11 -- or rather, $2.15 to $2.45 per share in earnings from ongoing operations.

Now let's turn to a brief operational overview for the quarter.

Starting in the U.K., Western Power Distribution has fully integrated the Midlands operations on schedule and within budget. As you can see from the slides in the appendix to today's presentation, WPD employees have already made dramatic improvements in performance, resulting in material benefits not only for our customers but our shareholders as well. Our current assessment in the case that annual cash cost savings, for the Midlands operations, will be higher than what we projected during the acquisition announcement and equity financing last spring. These cost reductions are not coming at the expense of customer service, rather just the opposite. In just 12 months Midland customers have seen a 40% reduction in customer minutes lost, an important measure of performance in the U.K. We've also accomplished a 96% reduction in customers out of service for more than 18 hours, a 26% improvement in the number of customers restored in just 1 hour, and a 22% improvement in the number of interruptions per 100 customers. These customer service performance improvements will result in additional incentive revenues in the future for WPD. We also believe that these improvements will further cement WPD's reputation as the gold standard for network operations in the U.K.

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