ISSUES 2009 EARNINGS GUIDANCE
REDUCES DIVIDEND RATE
- 2008 Earnings in Line with Previous Guidance
- Announces 2009 Guidance Range of GAAP $2.68 to $3.08 and Core (non-GAAP) $2.75 to $3.15 Earnings per Share
- Common Dividend Reduced to $1.54 per Share Annualized Rate
- Company Reaffirms Commitment to Strategy of Investing in Energy Infrastructure
- Current Available Liquidity Remains Solid at Approximately $1.3 Billion
- Analyst Conference Call Tuesday, Feb. 17 at 7 AM CT (Note Date & Time Change)
ST. LOUIS, Feb. 13 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Ameren Corporation today announced 2008 net income in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) of $605 million, or $2.88 per share, compared to 2007 GAAP net income of $618 million, or $2.98 per share. Excluding certain items in each year, Ameren recorded 2008 core (non-GAAP) net income of $622 million, or $2.95 per share, compared to 2007 core (non-GAAP) net income of $685 million, or $3.30 per share.
2009 Earnings Guidance
Ameren also announced today it expects 2009 GAAP earnings to be in the range of $2.68 to $3.08 per share and core (non-GAAP) earnings to be in the range of $2.75 to $3.15 per share. An estimated 7 cents per share negative impact in 2009 from the 2007 settlement agreement among parties in Illinois to provide comprehensive electric rate relief and customer assistance is excluded from core (non-GAAP) earnings guidance. Any net unrealized mark-to-market gains or losses will impact GAAP earnings, but are excluded from GAAP and core (non-GAAP) earnings guidance because the company is unable to reasonably estimate the impact of any such gains or losses at this time. In addition, the effects of a January 2009 severe winter storm, including the related impact of reduced electric margins due to the loss of operating capacity at our Missouri regulated operation's largest customer, the Noranda Aluminum, Inc. smelter plant in New Madrid, Missouri, are also excluded from GAAP and core (non-GAAP) earnings guidance. At this time, the company is unable to reasonably estimate the impact of the severe storm on earnings.
"Despite recent rate increases in Missouri and Illinois, as well as our proactive sales of 2009 non-rate-regulated generation in early 2008, we believe our 2009 core earnings will be relatively flat compared to our 2008 core earnings. We believe that the weak economy, the volatile commodity markets, and unprecedented strains in the capital and credit markets will result in lower regulated customer sales versus 2008, lower power prices for unsold non-rate-regulated generation, and higher financing costs throughout 2009 and perhaps longer," said Gary L. Rainwater, chairman, president and chief executive officer.
Ameren expects its business segments to provide the following contributions to 2009 core (non-GAAP) earnings per share:
Missouri Regulated $1.25 - $1.35 Illinois Regulated 0.40 - 0.50 Non-rate-regulated Generation 1.10 - 1.30 2009 Core (Non-GAAP) Earnings Guidance Range $2.75 - $3.15
Ameren's guidance for 2009 assumes normal weather and is subject to, among other things, regulatory decisions and legislative actions, plant operations, energy and capital and credit market conditions, economic conditions, severe storms, unusual or otherwise unexpected gains or losses, and other risks and uncertainties outlined, or referred to, in the Forward-looking Statements section of this press release.
Today, Ameren's board of directors declared a 38.5 cents per share quarterly dividend, payable on March 31, 2009, to shareholders of record on March 11, 2009. The board's action is consistent with an annualized dividend of $1.54 per share, or a 39 percent reduction from the previous annual dividend level of $2.54 per share.
"We recognize the importance of our common dividend to our investors, and this dividend reduction, while prudent, was not a decision that our board took lightly," said Rainwater. "It was made only after implementing many other less painful steps. We put in place plans to significantly reduce 2008 and projected 2009 capital and operating expenditures by approximately $800 million. We reduced executive management salaries and incentive compensation opportunities, and placed firm controls on headcount and other operating expenditures.
"Several factors contributed to our decision to reduce the dividend. First and foremost was the desire to enhance Ameren's financial strength and flexibility as we manage our company through the dramatically weakened state of the economy and the continued uncertainties in the capital, credit, and commodity markets. Financial strength and flexibility are critical to providing long-term benefits to our shareholders and customers. Specifically, this dividend reduction will allow Ameren to retain approximately $215 million of cash annually, which will provide incremental funds to enhance reliability, meet our customers' expectations and grow our regulated businesses, reduce our reliance on dilutive equity financings, enhance our access to the capital and credit markets to fund our operations and drive solid long-term earnings per share growth from our strong, regulated asset base.
"In making this decision, the board was not only mindful of the dramatic changes that have taken place in the economy and the capital, credit, and commodity markets over the last few months, but also the company's current business mix. Federal and state environmental expenditure requirements have increased, as have costs to invest in our energy infrastructure to meet our customers' reliability needs. Upon considering these challenges and others facing our company, our industry, and in certain respects, our country, our board made a prudent decision to reduce our dividend for the long-term benefit of all our stakeholders.
"We remain committed to our straightforward, long-term business strategy of investing in Missouri and Illinois in order to deliver safe, reliable, and affordable energy to our customers in an environmentally responsible manner and achieving solid returns in our regulated businesses, optimizing our existing non-rate-regulated generation assets, and delivering solid long-term value to our shareholders. This same strategy will also be a critical factor in helping create jobs and provide long-term growth in Missouri and Illinois during this difficult economic period."
Ameren's dividend level has historically been among the highest of its utility peers and, in fact, of all large U.S. companies. In 2008, Ameren paid out 88 percent of its GAAP earnings in dividends versus 50 to 60 percent for peer companies. Rainwater noted that Ameren's new dividend rate will put it squarely within the payout range of similar companies and that, coupled with the company's long-term annual earnings per share growth target of at least 5 percent, would provide competitive long-term total return potential for shareholders.
"Our adjusted dividend level provides Ameren with a more sustainable dividend payout ratio based upon earnings from our regulated businesses and better aligns our dividend payout ratio with industry peers," said Rainwater. "Looking ahead, our goal would be to grow the dividend level as our earnings from rate-regulated operations increase and our overall cash flow profile improves."
As noted above, Ameren Corporation today announced 2008 net income in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) of $605 million, or $2.88 per share, compared to 2007 GAAP net income of $618 million, or $2.98 per share. Excluding certain items in each year, Ameren recorded 2008 core (non-GAAP) net income of $622 million, or $2.95 per share, compared to 2007 core (non-GAAP) net income of $685 million, or $3.30 per share.
For the fourth quarter of 2008, Ameren recorded GAAP net income of $57 million, or 27 cents per share, compared to $108 million, or 52 cents per share, for the fourth quarter of 2007. Excluding certain items in each period, Ameren recorded fourth quarter 2008 core (non-GAAP) net income of $97 million, or 45 cents per share, compared to fourth quarter 2007 core (non-GAAP) net income of $125 million, or 60 cents per share.
The decline in core (non-GAAP) earnings per share in 2008 versus 2007 was principally due to higher fuel and related transportation prices, higher plant operations and maintenance costs, increased spending on utility distribution system reliability, and milder weather, among other things. These items more than offset the positive impacts of improved generating plant output and higher realized margins from non-rate-regulated generation operations, as well as net increases in electric and natural gas rates, among other things.
The following items are excluded from 2008 and 2007 core (non-GAAP) earnings:
A reconciliation of GAAP to non-GAAP earnings per share is as follows:
Fourth Quarter Year 2008 2007 2008 2007 GAAP earnings per share $0.27 $0.52 $2.88 $2.98 Net unrealized mark-to-market (gain)/loss 0.16 (0.01) 0.07 (0.04) Coal contract settlement - 2009 Portion - - (0.08) - 2007 severe storms & related MO Orders (0.03) - (0.07) 0.09 FERC order & related MO order (0.04) 0.01 (0.04) 0.06 Illinois electric rate relief settlement, net 0.03 0.08 0.13 0.21 Asset impairment charges 0.06 - 0.06 - Core (non-GAAP) earnings per share $0.45 $0.60 $2.95 $3.30
"Despite a very challenging economic environment, as well as volatile and uncertain capital, credit, and commodity market conditions, we were able to report 2008 core earnings in line with our expectations," said Rainwater. "As important, we were able to execute on key aspects of our long-term strategic plan, as well as take prudent actions to address the unprecedented economic and capital market conditions we are facing today. In 2008, we were granted much needed electric and natural gas rate increases in our regulated operations in Illinois. We also recently received approval of an electric rate increase in our Missouri regulated operations, which is expected to be effective March 1, 2009. The Missouri order authorized fuel and purchased power cost recovery and vegetation management and infrastructure inspection cost-tracking mechanisms. These mechanisms improve our ability to continue to invest in our infrastructure so that we will be able to meet our customers' expectations for safe and reliable service.
"In addition, we took timely, prudent actions to increase liquidity and enhance our financial flexibility in light of very difficult capital and credit market conditions and a weakening economy. These actions included accessing the capital markets, as well as making significant reductions in our 2008 and 2009 spending plans, while still meeting our reliability, environmental and safety objectives. As a result, our current available liquidity, which represents our cash on hand and amounts available under our credit facilities, remains solid at approximately $1.3 billion."
2008 Earnings at Missouri Regulated Operations
Core (non-GAAP) earnings in 2008 were $236 million, down from $302 million in 2007. The decline in core (non-GAAP) earnings was primarily due to higher fuel and related transportation costs and near normal summer weather in 2008 compared to very hot weather in the year-ago summer. Other factors contributing to the decline included higher plant operations and maintenance costs and higher other labor and employee benefits costs. The above negatives were partly offset by the positive impact of a full year of the 2007 rate increases, among other things. Missouri regulated operations recorded GAAP earnings in 2008 of $234 million, $47 million lower than in 2007. In addition to the items noted above, this GAAP earnings decrease was also due to net unrealized mark-to-market losses in 2008 versus net unrealized mark-to-market gains in 2007.
2008 Earnings at Illinois Regulated Operations
Core (non-GAAP) earnings in 2008 were $51 million compared with $77 million in 2007. The decline in core (non-GAAP) earnings was primarily due to higher costs for infrastructure reliability efforts, higher financing costs reflecting difficult capital market conditions, higher storm-related expenses, milder weather, and higher bad debt expenses. These negatives were partly offset by the positive impact of the 2008 Illinois net increase in electric and natural gas rates and lower other labor and employee benefits costs, among other things. Illinois regulated operations recorded GAAP earnings in 2008 of $32 million, down $15 million from the 2007 level. In addition to the items noted above, this GAAP earnings decrease was also due to net unrealized mark-to-market losses.
2008 Earnings at Non-rate-regulated Generation Operations
Core (non-GAAP) earnings in 2008 were $336 million versus $304 million in 2007. The increase in core (non-GAAP) earnings was primarily driven by improved generating plant output and higher realized margins. These positives were partly offset by higher fuel and related transportation prices and higher plant operations and maintenance costs, among other things. Non-rate-regulated generation GAAP earnings in 2008 were $352 million compared to $281 million in 2007. In addition to the items noted above, this increase in GAAP earnings was also driven by net unrealized mark-to-market gains and the previously discussed 2009 portion of the lump-sum settlement payment received in 2008 related to a terminated coal contract, partially offset by the majority of the previously discussed asset impairment charges.
Analyst Conference Call
Ameren will conduct a conference call for financial analysts at 7:00 a.m. Central Time on Tuesday, Feb. 17, to discuss 2008 earnings, 2009 earnings guidance, the dividend, and other matters. Investors, the news media and the public may listen to a live Internet broadcast of the call at www.ameren.com by clicking on "Q4 2008 Ameren Corporation Earnings Conference Call," followed by the appropriate audio link. An accompanying slide presentation will be available on Ameren's Web site. This presentation will be posted in the "Investors" section of the Web site under "Presentations." The analyst call will also be available for replay on the Internet for one year. In addition, a telephone playback of the conference call will be available beginning at approximately noon Central Time, from Feb. 17 through Feb. 24, by dialing, U.S. (800) 405-2236; international (303) 590-3000 and entering the number: 11125672#. The conference call on Tuesday, Feb. 17 replaces the previously scheduled Wednesday, Feb. 18 conference call for financial analysts. There will be no call on Feb. 18.
With assets of approximately $23 billion, Ameren serves approximately 2.4 million electric customers and almost one million natural gas customers in a 64,000-square-mile area of Missouri and Illinois. Ameren owns a diverse mix of electric generating plants strategically located in its Midwest market with a generating capacity of more than 16,400 megawatts.
Regulation G Statement
Ameren has presented certain information in this release on a diluted cents per share basis. These diluted per share amounts reflect certain factors that directly impact Ameren's total earnings per share. The core (non-GAAP) earnings per share and core (non-GAAP) earnings per share guidance excludes one or more of the following: costs related to severe January 2007 storms, the effects of a January 2009 storm, including the related impact on our Missouri regulated operation's largest customer, the Noranda Aluminum, Inc. smelter plant in New Madrid, Missouri, the earnings impact of the settlement agreement among parties in Illinois for comprehensive electric rate relief and customer assistance, a March 2007 Federal Energy Regulatory Commission order and 2009 Missouri Public Service Commission rate order relating to prior years' regional transmission organization costs, net mark-to-market gains or losses from nonqualifying hedges, the benefit of accounting and rate orders from the Missouri Public Service Commission associated with 2007 storm costs, an asset impairment charge primarily related to the shutdown of the Indian Trails cogeneration plant, and the 2008 lump-sum payment from a coal supplier for expected higher fuel costs in 2009 as a result of the premature closure of a mine and termination of a contract. Ameren uses core (non-GAAP) earnings internally for financial planning and for analysis of performance. Ameren also uses core (non-GAAP) earnings as primary performance measurements when communicating with analysts and investors regarding our earnings results and outlook, as the company believes it allows it to more accurately compare the company's ongoing performance across periods.
In providing consolidated and segment core (non-GAAP) earnings guidance, there could be differences between core (non-GAAP) earnings and earnings prepared in accordance with GAAP for certain items, such as those listed above. Ameren is unable to estimate the impact, if any, on future GAAP earnings of such items.
Statements in this release not based on historical facts are considered "forward-looking" and, accordingly, involve risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those discussed. Although such forward-looking statements have been made in good faith and are based on reasonable assumptions, there is no assurance that the expected results will be achieved. These statements include (without limitation) statements as to future expectations, beliefs, plans, strategies, objectives, events, conditions, and financial performance. In connection with the "safe harbor" provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, we are providing this cautionary statement to identify important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those anticipated. The following factors, in addition to those discussed elsewhere in this release and in our filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, could cause actual results to differ materially from management expectations suggested in such forward-looking statements:
Given these uncertainties, undue reliance should not be placed on these forward-looking statements. Except to the extent required by the federal securities laws, we undertake no obligation to update or revise publicly any forward-looking statements to reflect new information or future events.
AMEREN CORPORATION (AEE) CONSOLIDATED BALANCE SHEET (Unaudited, in millions) December 31, December 31, 2008 2007 ASSETS Current Assets: Cash and cash equivalents $92 $355 Accounts receivable - trade, net 502 570 Unbilled revenue 427 359 Miscellaneous accounts and notes receivable 292 262 Materials and supplies 842 735 Mark-to-market derivative assets 207 35 Other current assets 153 146 Total current assets 2,515 2,462 Property and Plant, Net 16,567 15,069 Investments and Other Assets: Nuclear decommissioning trust fund 239 307 Goodwill 831 831 Intangible assets 167 198 Regulatory assets 1,732 1,158 Other assets 606 703 Total investments and other assets 3,575 3,197 TOTAL ASSETS $22,657 $20,728 LIABILITIES AND STOCKHOLDERS' EQUITY Current Liabilities: Current maturities of long-term debt $380 $223 Short-term debt 1,174 1,472 Accounts and wages payable 813 687 Taxes accrued 54 84 Mark-to-market derivative liabilities 155 24 Other current liabilities 487 414 Total current liabilities 3,063 2,904 Long-term Debt, Net 6,554 5,689 Preferred Stock of Subsidiary Subject to Mandatory Redemption - 16 Deferred Credits and Other Liabilities: Accumulated deferred income taxes, net 2,131 2,046 Accumulated deferred investment tax credits 100 109 Regulatory liabilities 1,291 1,240 Asset retirement obligations 406 562 Accrued pension and other postretirement benefits 1,495 839 Other deferred credits and liabilities 438 354 Total deferred credits and other liabilities 5,861 5,150 Preferred Stock of Subsidiaries Not Subject to Mandatory Redemption 195 195 Minority Interest in Consolidated Subsidiaries 21 22 Stockholders' Equity: Common stock 2 2 Other paid-in capital, principally premium on common stock 4,780 4,604 Retained earnings 2,181 2,110 Accumulated other comprehensive income - 36 Total stockholders' equity 6,963 6,752 TOTAL LIABILITIES AND STOCKHOLDERS' EQUITY $22,657 $20,728 AMEREN CORPORATION (AEE) CONSOLIDATED STATEMENT OF INCOME (Unaudited, in millions, except per share amounts) Three Months Ended Year Ended December 31, December 31, 2008 2007 2008 2007 Operating Revenues: Electric $1,423 $1,428 $6,367 $6,283 Gas 485 384 1,472 1,279 Total operating revenues 1,908 1,812 7,839 7,562 Operating Expenses: Fuel 372 303 1,275 1,167 Purchased power 246 281 1,210 1,387 Gas purchased for resale 360 278 1,057 900 Other operations and maintenance 497 439 1,857 1,687 Depreciation and amortization 171 167 685 681 Taxes other than income taxes 93 86 393 381 Total operating expenses 1,739 1,554 6,477 6,203 Operating Income 169 258 1,362 1,359 Other Income and Expenses: Miscellaneous income 19 22 80 75 Miscellaneous expense (8) (4) (31) (25) Total other income 11 18 49 50 Interest Charges 109 107 440 423 Income Before Income Taxes, Minority Interest, and Preferred Dividends of Subsidiaries 71 169 971 986 Income Taxes 8 51 327 330 Income Before Minority Interest and Preferred Dividends of Subsidiaries 63 118 644 656 Minority Interest and Preferred Dividends of Subsidiaries 6 10 39 38 Net Income $57 $108 $605 $618 Earnings per Common Share - Basic and Diluted $0.27 $0.52 $2.88 $2.98 Average Common Shares Outstanding 211.5 208.1 210.1 207.4 AMEREN CORPORATION (AEE) CONSOLIDATED STATEMENT OF CASH FLOWS (Unaudited, in millions) Year Ended December 31, 2008 2007 Cash Flows From Operating Activities: Net income $605 $618 Adjustments to reconcile net income to net cash provided by operating activities: Gain on sales of emission allowances (8) (8) Gain on sale of noncore properties - (3) Loss on asset impairments 14 - Net mark-to-market gain on derivatives (3) (3) Depreciation and amortization 705 735 Amortization of nuclear fuel 37 37 Amortization of debt issuance costs and premium/discounts 20 19 Deferred income taxes and investment tax credits, net 167 (28) Minority interest 29 27 Other (9) 12 Changes in assets and liabilities: Receivables 25 (194) Materials and supplies (100) (88) Accounts and wages payable 57 - Taxes accrued, net (30) 21 Assets, other 63 49 Liabilities, other 183 (36) Pension and other postretirement benefit obligations (4) 27 Counterparty collateral, net (69) (27) Taum Sauk costs, net of insurance recoveries (149) (56) Net cash provided by operating activities 1,533 1,102 Cash Flows From Investing Activities: Capital expenditures (1,896) (1,381) Proceeds from sales of noncore properties, net - 13 Nuclear fuel expenditures (173) (68) Purchases of securities - nuclear decommissioning trust fund (520) (142) Sales of securities - nuclear decommissioning trust fund 497 128 Purchases of emission allowances (12) (24) Sales of emission allowances 4 5 Other 3 1 Net cash used in investing activities (2,097) (1,468) Cash Flows From Financing Activities: Dividends on common stock (534) (527) Capital issuance costs (12) (4) Short-term debt, net (298) 860 Dividends paid to minority interest holder (30) (21) Redemptions, repurchases, and maturities: Long-term debt (842) (488) Preferred stock (16) (1) Issuances: Common stock 154 91 Long-term debt 1,879 674 Net cash provided by financing activities 301 584 Net change in cash and cash equivalents (263) 218 Cash and cash equivalents at beginning of year 355 137 Cash and cash equivalents at end of year $92 $355 AMEREN CORPORATION (AEE) CONSOLIDATED OPERATING STATISTICS Three Months Twelve Months Ended Ended December 31, December 31, 2008 2007 2008 2007 Electric Sales - kilowatt-hour (in millions): Missouri Regulated Residential 3,337 3,135 13,904 14,258 Commercial 3,485 3,486 14,690 14,766 Industrial 2,266 2,431 9,256 9,675 Other 179 182 785 759 Native load subtotal 9,267 9,234 38,635 39,458 Interchange sales 1,926 3,798 10,457 10,984 Subtotal 11,193 13,032 49,092 50,442 Illinois Regulated Residential Generation and delivery service 2,949 2,720 11,667 11,857 Commercial Generation and delivery service 1,609 1,580 6,095 7,232 Delivery service only 1,592 1,254 6,147 5,178 Industrial Generation and delivery service 351 223 1,442 1,606 Delivery service only 2,733 2,447 11,300 11,199 Other 149 145 555 576 Native load subtotal 9,383 8,369 37,206 37,648 Non-rate-regulated Generation Non-affiliate energy sales 6,835 6,757 26,395 25,196 Affiliate native energy sales 1,416 1,633 6,055 7,296 Subtotal 8,251 8,390 32,450 32,492 Eliminate affiliate sales (1,416) (1,633) (6,055) (7,296) Eliminate Illinois Regulated/Non-rate- regulated Generation common customers (1,283) (1,312) (4,939) (5,800) Ameren Total 26,128 26,846 107,754 107,486 Electric Revenues (in millions): Missouri Regulated Residential $192 $179 $948 $980 Commercial 165 165 838 839 Industrial 77 82 372 390 Other 11 12 108 93 Native load subtotal 445 438 2,266 2,302 Interchange sales 81 181 490 484 Subtotal $526 $619 $2,756 $2,786 Illinois Regulated Residential Generation and delivery service $287 $247 $1,112 $1,055 Commercial Generation and delivery service 154 134 616 666 Delivery service only 21 17 77 54 Industrial Generation and delivery service 25 17 102 105 Delivery service only 8 7 30 24 Other 55 77 285 372 Native load subtotal $550 $499 $2,222 $2,276 Non-rate-regulated Generation Non-affiliate energy sales $332 $339 $1,389 $1,310 Affiliate native energy sales 132 110 441 461 Other 22 (3) 106 41 Subtotal $486 $446 $1,936 $1,812 Eliminate affiliate revenues (139) (136) (547) (591) Ameren Total $1,423 $1,428 $6,367 $6,283 AMEREN CORPORATION (AEE) CONSOLIDATED OPERATING STATISTICS Three Months Ended Twelve Months Ended December 31, December 31, 2008 2007 2008 2007 Electric Generation - megawatthour (in millions): Missouri Regulated 11.2 12.9 49.3 50.3 Non-rate-regulated Generation Ameren Energy Generating Company (Genco) 4.4 4.6 16.6 17.4 AmerenEnergy Resources Generating Company (AERG) 1.6 1.4 6.7 5.3 Electric Energy, Inc. (EEI) 2.1 2.2 8.0 8.1 AmerenEnergy Medina Valley Cogen, L.L.C. - - 0.2 0.2 Subtotal 8.1 8.2 31.5 31.0 Ameren Total 19.3 21.1 80.8 81.3 Fuel Cost per kilowatthour (cents) Missouri Regulated 1.365 1.252 1.312 1.247 Non-rate-regulated Generation 1.924 1.649 1.912 1.691 Gas Sales -decatherms (in thousands) Missouri Regulated 4,172 3,759 12,694 11,745 Illinois Regulated 34,546 29,095 103,668 93,952 Other 2,228 576 3,350 2,174 Ameren Total 40,946 33,430 119,712 107,871 Net Income (Loss) by Segment (in millions): Missouri Regulated $(38) $18 $234 $281 Illinois Regulated 17 2 32 47 Non-rate-regulated Generation 68 84 352 281 Other 10 4 (13) 9 Ameren Total $57 $108 $605 $618 December 31, December 31, 2008 2007 Common Stock: Shares outstanding (in millions) 212.3 208.3 Book value per share $32.80 $32.41 Capitalization Ratios: Common equity 45.9% 48.2% Preferred stock 1.3% 1.4% Debt, net of cash 52.8% 50.4%
SOURCE: Ameren Corporation
Web site: http://www.ameren.com/