Allete CEO Discusses Q2 2012 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

Allete (ALE)

Q2 2012 Earnings Call

August 2, 2012 10:00 AM ET

Executives

Al Hodnik - President & CEO

Mark Schober - SVP & CFO

Analysts

Christopher Ellinghaus - Williams Capital

Brian Russo - Ladenburg Thalmann

Christopher Ellinghaus - Williams Capital

James Bellessa - D.A. Davidson and Company

Presentation

Operator

Good day and welcome to the Allete Second Quarter 2012 Financial Results Call. (Operator Instructions). Certain statements contained in this conference call that are not a description of historical facts are forward-looking statements such as terms defined in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Because such statements can include risks and uncertainties, actual results may differ materially from those expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements include but are not limited to those discussed in filings made by the Company with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Many of the factors that will determine the Company's future results are beyond the ability of management to control or predict. Listeners should not place undue reliance on forward-looking statements, which reflects management's view only as of the date hereof. The Company undertakes no obligation to revise or update any forward-looking statements or to make any other forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events, or otherwise.

For opening remarks and introductions, I would now turn like to turn the conference over to your host today ALLETE's, Chairman, President, and CEO, Mr. Al Hodnik. Sir, you may begin.

Al Hodnik

Thank you for joining us this morning. With me is ALLETE’s Chief Financial Officer, Mark Schober. Today we are pleased to report second quarter earnings per share of $0.39 which was in-line with our expectations. Mark will go through the financial details of the quarter in a few moments. But before he does let me say that despite having a $0.05 per share impact on our first quarter results due to extremely mild winter weather, our year-to-date earnings are basically where we had originally anticipated when we first gave guidance last December. Yesterday, Minnesota Power received large power demand nominations for the final four months of 2012.

They indicate our industrial class customers of which taconite producers are the largest segment, we will operate at near full production levels for the remainder of the year. Our taconite producers primarily serve the domestic steel makers who are currently experiencing strong demand from automobile manufacturers and other U.S. based industries.

So as a result our full year earnings guidance remains unchanged, and we continue to expect to earn between $2.45 and $2.65 per share in 2012. Solid organic growth continues in our region as two industrial projects continue to make construction progress. First, the Essar Steel, Minnesota taconite facility which will be served by one of our municipal customers the City of Nashwauk is moving forward, the first mine blast is scheduled for September to be followed by production rock stripping activities. Essar is on track to begin startup in the spring of 2013. They already have 85 employees on the payroll and have spent about $500 million on the project to-date.

This classic taconite facility will require more than 100 megawatts once it reaches full production. The second is magnetation which began the year with plans to construct two new 5 to 7 megawatt facilities in our service territory. The first became operational in May and now has 110 employees working at the site. The second is a joint venture with Steel Dynamics called Mining Resources and it is due to begin operations in late summer.

North Dakota continues to be good for our business, as our Basin 2 and Basin 3 wind generation construction projects proceed on schedule. Through the second quarter we have spent about $224 million out of the approximately $320 million of capital expenditures planned for these projects this year. These low cost renewable projects are anticipated to be in service by year end and well before and expected production tax credit PTC exploration.

The completion of Basin 2 and 3 will bring Minnesota powers renewable percentage up to 20%, well on its way to meeting Minnesota’s renewable mandate of 25% by the year 2025. Earlier this year we informed you of our plans to construct a new 500KV transmission line that will deliver hydroelectric energy from Manitoba Hydro into Minnesota’s Iron Range by 2020.

We have now given that line a name, the Great Northern Transmission Line. Total project costs, size and cost allocations are still to be determined and we will keep you posted on the developments as we go forward. As part of the Great Northern Transmission Line Minnesota Power and ATC are evaluating joint development of a 345KV transmission line from the Iron Range to Duluth with an in-service state of approximately 2020. This in addition to a surfing transmission alternatives in Wisconsin that would allow for movement of more renewable energy in the mid-west while at the same time strengthening electric reliability in the region.

Micro planners are presently evaluating the merits of these projects. Total project cost, ownership shares and cost allocation are still to be determined with these lines as well. We will provide more details when it becomes available. I will provide some additional comments in a few moments but at that time I will turn the call over to Mark, Mark?

Mark Schober

Thank you Al and good morning everyone. Before I begin I would like to remind you that we filed our 10Q this morning and I encourage you to refer to it for more details. For the second quarter, 2012, Allete reported earnings per share of $0.39, a net income of $14.4 million and operating revenue of $216.4 million compared to reported earnings per diluted share of $0.48, net income of $17 million and operating revenue of $219.9 million in 2011.

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