"Despite milder winter weather, we were able to produce solid earnings this quarter. Excluding the 2003 gain associated with the new accounting standard, 2004 first quarter earnings were up over first quarter 2003," said Gary L. Rainwater, chairman, chief executive officer and president of Ameren Corporation. "The CILCORP acquisition, emission credit sales, a recovering economy and our focus on cost control positively affected 2004 first quarter earnings. These benefits more than offset the negative effects of milder winter weather, higher fuel and purchased power costs, weaker energy markets and earnings per share dilution resulting from increased common shares outstanding."
Revenues in the first quarter of 2004 increased $108 million to $1.2 billion, compared to the same period in 2003. An additional month of CILCORP Inc. sales in 2004, resulting from the completion of that acquisition on Jan. 31, 2003, increased revenues by $105 million. In addition, improving economic conditions and higher sales to customers in the deregulated Illinois marketplace increased total revenues as industrial and weather-sensitive commercial sales rose 4 percent and 1 percent, respectively, during the quarter. Revenues also benefited from emission credit sales that totaled $15 million during the 2004 first quarter versus approximately $1 million in the prior-year period.
First quarter 2004 revenue gains were partially offset by the impact of milder winter weather that reduced heating demand. In the first quarter of 2004, heating degree days in Ameren's service territory fell approximately 9 percent from the year-ago period. Interchange electric revenues also decreased $25 million in the first quarter of 2004, as compared to the same period in 2003, due to lower power prices and reduced power plant availability. "As expected, energy market conditions, though solid in the first quarter of 2004, were below the exceptionally strong first quarter of 2003," added Mr. Rainwater.
Fuel and purchased power expenses increased $39 million in the first quarter of 2004, versus the same period a year ago, principally due to the additional month of CILCORP's operations in 2004, sales growth and less low-cost power plant availability.
Other operations and maintenance expenses increased $14 million in the first quarter of 2004, as compared to 2003. However, other operations and maintenance expense increased approximately $15 million as a result of an additional month of CILCORP ownership in the current period.
The company's proposed acquisition from Dynegy Inc. (NYSE: DYN) of the stock of Decatur, Ill.-based Illinois Power and a 20 percent interest in Electric Energy, Inc. (EEI) continues to move forward in the regulatory review process. "In early February, we announced the signing of a definitive agreement to purchase Illinois Power and an increased interest in EEI in a transaction valued at $2.3 billion," noted Mr. Rainwater. "In late March, we completed the initial filings required for regulatory approval. This acquisition remains on target to close by the end of this year."
Warner L. Baxter, executive vice president and chief financial officer added, "Following our announcement of the acquisition, we quickly moved to sell common stock, generating proceeds of approximately $850 million. This offering was a conservative and prudent move to secure a significant portion of the equity financing planned for the Illinois Power transaction. In total, that equity financing is expected to equal at least 50 percent of the transaction value. The additional shares issued in this offering reduced earnings by an estimated 3 cents per share in the first quarter of 2004 since these shares were issued prior to the close of this transaction. However, we expect this acquisition to be accretive to earnings by 5 to 10 cents per share in each of the first two years after closing and to provide significant, long-term value for all of our stakeholders."
Ameren also announced today that the company is reaffirming its 2004 guidance for earnings per share of between $2.75 and $2.95 per share. The 2004 estimate includes the impact of common shares already issued to partially fund the Illinois Power acquisition, but excludes any potential earnings impact resulting from the Illinois Power acquisition or potential further common stock issuances for this transaction. The company's guidance is subject to, among other things, plant operations, weather conditions, energy market and economic conditions, unusual or otherwise unexpected gains or losses and other risks and uncertainties outlined in the company's Forward-Looking Statements section of this release.
Ameren will conduct a conference call for financial analysts at 9:00 a.m. (Central Time) on Thursday, April 29, to discuss first quarter 2004 earnings and other matters relating to the company. Investors, the news media and the public may listen to a live Internet broadcast of the Ameren analyst call at www.ameren.com by clicking on "Q1 2004 Earnings Conference Call," then the appropriate audio link. A slide presentation is also available on Ameren's website that reconciles earnings per share between the first quarter of 2003 and the first quarter of 2004. To access this presentation simply follow the links for the webcast, and then click on the link for the presentation, which is provided in a .pdf format. The analyst call will also be available for replay on the Internet for one year. Telephone playback of the conference call will also be available beginning at 12:00 p.m. (Central Time), April 29, until May 6 by dialing, U.S. (800) 428-6051; international (973) 709-2089, and entering the number: 350682.
With assets of $14.6 billion, Ameren owns a diverse mix of electric generating plants strategically located in its Midwest market with a capacity of more than 14,600 megawatts. Ameren serves 1.7 million electric customers and 500,000 natural gas customers in a 49,000 square-mile area of Missouri and Illinois.
PDF Versions of This Release and Supporting Documents
Statements made in this release, which are not based on historical facts, are "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, the company is 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 past and subsequent securities filings, could cause actual results to differ materially from management expectations as suggested by such "forward-looking" statements:
• the closing and timing of Ameren's acquisition of Illinois Power and the impact of any conditions imposed by regulators in connection with their approval thereof;
• the effects of the stipulation and agreement relating to the AmerenUE Missouri electric excess earnings complaint case and other regulatory actions, including changes in regulatory policies;
• changes in laws and other governmental actions, including monetary and fiscal policy;
• the impact on the company of current regulations related to the opportunity for customers to choose alternative energy suppliers in Illinois;
• the effects of increased competition in the future due to, among other things, deregulation of certain aspects of the companys business at both the state and federal levels;
• the effects of participation in a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission- approved regional transmission organization, including activities associated with the Midwest Independent System Operator;
• the availability of fuel for the production of electricity, such as coal and natural gas, and purchased power and natural gas for distribution, and the level and volatility of future market prices for such commodities, including the ability to recover any increased costs;
• the use of financial and derivative instruments;
• average rates for electricity in the Midwest;
• business and economic conditions;
• the impact of the adoption of new accounting standards and the application of appropriate technical accounting rules and guidance;
• interest rates and the availability of capital;
• actions of ratings agencies and the effects of such actions; weather conditions; generation plant construction, installation and performance;
operation of nuclear power facilities and decommissioning costs;
• the effects of strategic initiatives, including acquisitions and divestitures;
• the impact of current environmental regulations on utilities and generating companies and the expectation that more stringent requirements will be introduced over time, which could potentially have a negative financial effect;
• future wages and employee benefits costs, including changes in returns on benefit plan assets;
• disruptions of the capital markets or other events making the company's access to necessary capital more difficult or costly;
• competition from other generating facilities, including new facilities that may be developed; difficulties in integrating AmerenCILCO and Illinois Power, if consummated, with the company's other businesses;
• changes in the coal markets, environmental laws or regulations, or other factors adversely impacting synergy assumptions in connection with the CILCORP and Illinois Power acquisitions;
• cost and availability of transmission capacity for the energy generated by the companys generating facilities or required to satisfy energy sales made by the company;
• and legal and administrative proceedings.