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Cleco Corporation reports full-year 2011 operational earnings of $2.53 per diluted share

  • 2011 operational earnings per share up 12% from 2010 

  • Company reaffirms 2012 earnings guidance 

PINEVILLE, La., Feb. 22, 2012 - Cleco Corporation (NYSE: CNL) posted 2011 earnings of $195.7 million, or $3.22 per diluted share, down $59.6 million from the $255.3 million recorded in 2010.  Fourth-quarter earnings were $30.6 million, or $0.51 per diluted share, up $10.0 million from the $20.6 million recorded in the fourth quarter of 2010.  Operational earnings for 2011, which exclude the gain from the Acadia 2 transaction and other nonoperational gains, were $153.9 million, or $2.53 per diluted share, while operational earnings for 2010, which excludes the gains from the Evangeline and Acadia Unit 1 transactions and other nonoperational gains, were $137.6 million, or $2.26 per diluted share.

"Our 2011 earnings results clearly reflect the strength and diversity of the business we've built over the last few years," said Bruce Williamson, president and CEO of Cleco Corporation.  "The full-year effect of base rates supporting our investments in Madison Unit 3 and Acadia Unit 1 combined with above average summer weather have produced solid operational earnings and equity returns."  

"In addition to producing solid operational earnings, we successfully closed on the sale of Acadia Unit 2 to Entergy Louisiana and subsequently extinguished $150.0 million of debt at the holding company," said Williamson.  "We also strengthened our balance sheet by expanding and extending our credit facilities, refinancing debt and further reducing overall debt at Cleco Power.  We also increased our dividend twice in 2011 for a total increase of 25 percent while continuing to meet our customers' needs."

"The year 2012 is off to a very good start," said Williamson.  "In late January, Cleco Evangeline, a subsidiary of Cleco Midstream, announced that Coughlin Power Station was the winning bidder in Cleco Power's 2011 request for capacity and energy to meet new environmental standards.  Cleco Power agreed to enter into a three-year power purchase agreement for 730 megawatts with Cleco Evangeline subject to approval by federal and state regulators."

"A week later, Cleco Power announced the signing of a new 10-year full-requirements wholesale power contract with Dixie Electric Membership Corporation (DEMCO) with service to begin in April 2014 pending approval by our state regulators," said Williamson.  "This contract is expected to grow Cleco Power's load by more than 20 percent when it commences and add significant growth over the term of the contract.  The DEMCO opportunity represents a new type of growth for Cleco Power, as electric cooperatives and municipalities begin looking for suppliers to serve them from diverse fuel types as environmental regulations continue to tighten.  The steps we've already taken to diversify our fuel mix and modernize our generating fleet are paying off."

Earnings Guidance:

Cleco is reaffirming its 2012 consolidated operational earnings in the range of $2.34 - $2.44 per diluted share.  This estimate assumes normal weather for the year and is based on no earnings contribution from Midstream.  This guidance range excludes adjustments related to life insurance policies.  Please refer to "Operational Earnings Adjustments" in this news release for a description of these adjustments on the company's earnings per diluted share for the three and twelve months ended Dec. 31, 2011 and 2010.

Financial Highlights:

Fourth Quarter 2011

  • Cleco reports fourth-quarter earnings applicable to common stock of $30.6 million, or $0.51 per diluted share, compared to $20.6 million, or $0.34 per diluted share for the fourth quarter of 2010. 

Year-to-Date 2011

  • Cleco reports earnings applicable to common stock for 2011 of $195.7 million, or $3.22 per diluted share, compared to $255.3 million, or $4.20 per diluted share for 2010. 

Consolidated Earnings - Reconciliation of GAAP to Non-GAAP Measures
 
  Diluted Earnings Per Share
  Three months ended Dec. 31
Subsidiary 2011   2010
Cleco Power LLC   $0.39       $0.40  
Cleco Midstream Resources LLC 0.06     (0.04)  
Corporate and Other1 -     (0.02)  
Operational diluted earnings per share (Non-GAAP) 0.45     0.34  
Adjustments2 0.06     -  
Diluted earnings per share applicable to common stock   $0.51       $0.34  

GAAP refers to United States generally accepted accounting principles.

Includes dividends on preferred stock
Refer to "Operational Earnings Adjustments" in this news release

Consolidated Earnings - Reconciliation of GAAP to Non-GAAP Measures
 
  Diluted Earnings Per Share
  Year ended Dec. 31
Subsidiary 2011   2010
Cleco Power LLC   $2.34       $2.42  
Cleco Midstream Resources LLC 0.07     (0.04)  
Corporate and Other1 0.12     (0.12)  
Operational diluted earnings per share (Non-GAAP) 2.53     2.26  
Adjustments2 0.69     1.94  
Diluted earnings per share applicable to common stock   $3.22       $4.20  

GAAP refers to United States generally accepted accounting principles.

Includes dividends and redemption costs on preferred stock
Refer to "Operational Earnings Adjustments" in this news release

Quarter-Over-Quarter Operational Diluted Earnings Per Share Reconciliation:

  $0.34     2010 fourth-quarter operational diluted earnings per share
     
(0.08)     Non-fuel revenue, net of rate refund accrual
(0.01)     Other expenses, net
0.08     Income taxes
  $(0.01)     Cleco Power results
     
0.10     Cleco Midstream results
     
0.02     Corporate and Other results
     
  $0.45     2011 fourth-quarter operational diluted earnings per share
     
0.06     Adjustments1
     
  $0.51     Reported GAAP diluted earnings per share

1Refer to "Operational Earnings Adjustments" in this news release

Cleco Power

  • Non-fuel revenue decreased earnings by $0.08 per share compared to the fourth quarter of 2010 primarily due to $0.09 per share of lower electric sales resulting from milder winter weather, partially offset by $0.01 per share due to higher transmission revenue and a gain on the sale of Cleco Power's fuel oil inventory. 

  • Other expenses, net, were $0.01 per share higher compared to the fourth quarter of 2010 primarily due to $0.02 per share of higher other operations expense, $0.01 per share of higher depreciation expense, and $0.01 per share of higher interest charges. These increases were partially offset by $0.01 per share of lower non-recoverable expenses, $0.01 per share of lower property and state franchise taxes, and $0.01 per share primarily related to the absence of expenses related to an interest rate swap termination. 

  • Lower income taxes increased earnings by $0.08 per share compared to the fourth quarter of 2010 as a result of $0.04 per share for state tax benefits, $0.02 per share related to the settlement of the 2001 through 2003 IRS audit, $0.01 per share for adjustments for prior year tax returns, and $0.01 per share to bring tax expense in line with the annual effective tax rate. 

Cleco Midstream Resources

  • Evangeline's results increased earnings by $0.09 per share compared to the fourth quarter of 2010 primarily due to $0.12 per share related to the settlement of the 2001 through 2003 IRS audit, partially offset by $0.01 per share of additional interest charges related to uncertain tax positions and $0.02 per share related to higher property taxes as a result of the expiration of a 10-year property tax exemption. 

  • Acadia's results increased earnings by $0.01 per share compared to the fourth quarter of 2010 primarily due to the absence of Acadia Unit 2 operating losses. 

Corporate and Other

  • Lower income taxes increased earnings by $0.01 per share compared to the fourth quarter of 2010 as a result of $0.02 per share for tax credits and $0.01 per share related to the settlement of the 2001 through 2003 IRS audit. These increases were partially offset by $0.02 per share to bring tax expense in line with the consolidated annual effective tax rate. 

  • Lower other miscellaneous expenses increased earnings by $0.01 per share compared to the fourth quarter of 2010

Year-Over-Year Operational Diluted Earnings Per Share Reconciliation:

  $2.26     Year ended Dec. 31, 2010, operational diluted earnings per share
     
0.24     Non-fuel revenue, net of rate refund accrual
(0.09)     Other expenses, net
(0.16)     Interest charges
(0.15)     AFUDC (allowance for funds used during construction)
0.08     Income taxes
  $(0.08)     Cleco Power results
     
0.11     Cleco Midstream results
     
0.24     Corporate and Other results
     
  $2.53     Year ended Dec. 31, 2011, operational diluted earnings per share
     
0.69     Adjustments1
     
  $3.22     Reported GAAP diluted earnings per share

1Refer to "Operational Earnings Adjustments" in this news release

Cleco Power

  • Non-fuel revenue increased earnings by $0.24 per share in the year-over-year comparison primarily due to $0.27 per share related to the base rate increase that became effective in February 2010, which included Madison Unit 3 and the investment in Acadia Unit 1. Non-fuel revenue also included amounts related to the completed portions of the Acadiana Load Pocket transmission project. These increases were partially offset by $0.15 per share of lower electric sales primarily due to milder winter weather in 2011. Also contributing to the increase in non-fuel revenue was $0.09 per share from sales of fuel oil inventory, higher mineral lease payments, higher transmission revenue, and the absence of net unfavorable results relating to economic hedge transactions associated with fixed-price power that was provided to a wholesale customer in 2010. Lower estimated accruals for a rate refund further increased non-fuel revenue by $0.03 per share. 

  • Other expenses, net, were $0.09 per share higher compared to 2010 primarily due to $0.05 per share of higher generating station operating and maintenance expenses, primarily as a result of Madison Unit 3 being placed in service in the first quarter of 2010, and $0.06 per share related to other operating expenses. Higher depreciation expense contributed $0.07 per share primarily due to Madison Unit 3 being placed in service and the acquisition of Acadia Unit 1, both in the first quarter of 2010. These increases were partially offset by $0.05 per share from the absence of expenses related to fixed-price power that was provided to a wholesale customer during 2010, $0.03 per share of lower capacity payments, and $0.01 per share of lower other taxes. 

  • Higher interest charges decreased earnings $0.16 per share compared to 2010 primarily due to $0.13 per share from the November 2010 issuance of $250.0 million senior notes and $0.09 per share of interest related to uncertain tax positions. These decreases were partially offset by $0.03 per share of lower interest due to repayments of insured quarterly notes and a bank term loan in October 2010 and November 2010, respectively, and $0.03 per share of lower other miscellaneous interest charges. 

  • AFUDC, primarily associated with the first quarter 2010 completion of the Madison Unit 3 project, reduced earnings $0.15 per share compared to 2010. 

  • Lower income taxes increased earnings by $0.08 per share compared to 2010 as a result of $0.05 per share for state tax benefits, $0.04 per share for the tax impact of a valuation allowance for capital loss carryforwards recorded in 2010 and reversed in 2011, the absence of $0.03 per share of tax expense resulting from health care legislation changes affecting Medicare Part D recorded in 2010, and $0.02 per share related to the settlement of the 2001 through 2003 IRS audit. These increases were partially offset by the absence of $0.05 per share for the adjustment related to the implementation of the new retail base rates recorded in 2010 and $0.01 per share for adjustments for prior year tax returns. 

Cleco Midstream Resources

  • Evangeline's results increased $0.09 per share compared to 2010 primarily due to $0.12 per share related to the settlement of the 2001 through 2003 IRS audit, $0.03 per share for adjustments for prior year tax returns, and $0.02 per share of lower interest charges. These increases were partially offset by $0.07 per share of lower tolling revenue resulting from the Evangeline restructuring and pricing of the new tolling agreement and $0.01 per share of higher other miscellaneous expenses. 

  • Acadia's results increased $0.03 per share compared to 2010 primarily due to the absence of operating losses at Acadia Units 1 and 2. 

  • Higher other expenses at Midstream decreased results $0.01 per share compared to 2010

For a discussion of other transactions affecting the results of Cleco Midstream, please refer to "Operational Earnings Adjustments - Gains from Evangeline and Acadia Units 1 and 2 Transactions" below.

Corporate and Other

  • Lower income taxes increased earnings by $0.14 per share compared to 2010 as a result of $0.06 per share for tax credits, $0.05 per share due to net favorable permanent differences, $0.01 per share related to the settlement of the 2001 through 2003 IRS audit, and $0.02 per share related to adjustments for prior year tax returns. 

  • Lower interest charges increased earnings by $0.07 per share compared to 2010 primarily due to lower amounts related to uncertain tax positions and the repayment of a bank term loan in April 2011. 

  • Lower other miscellaneous expenses increased earnings by $0.03 per share compared to 2010. 

Operational Earnings Adjustments:

Cleco's management uses operational earnings per share, which is a non-GAAP measure, to evaluate the operations of Cleco and establish goals for management and employees.  Management believes this presentation is appropriate and enables investors to more accurately compare Cleco's operational financial performance over the periods presented.  Operational earnings as presented here may not be comparable to similarly titled measures used by other companies.  The following table provides a reconciliation of operational earnings per share to reported GAAP earnings per share.

Reconciliation of Operational Diluted Earnings Per Share to Reported GAAP Diluted Earnings Per Share

  Diluted Earnings Per Share
  Three months ended Dec. 31
  2011   2010
Operational diluted earnings per share   $0.45       $0.34  
Life insurance policies 0.06     0.01  
Tax levelization -     (0.01)  
Reported GAAP diluted earnings per share applicable to common stock   $0.51       $0.34  

  Diluted Earnings Per Share
  Year ended Dec. 31
  2011   2010
Operational diluted earnings per share   $2.53       $2.26  
Life insurance policies 0.06     0.02  
Gain from Evangeline transaction -     1.51  
Gain from Acadia Unit 1 transaction -     0.41  
Gain from Acadia Unit 2 transaction 0.63     -  
Reported GAAP diluted earnings per share applicable to common stock   $3.22       $4.20  

Reconciling adjustments from operational diluted earnings per share to GAAP diluted earnings per share are as follows:

Life Insurance Policies

Cleco has life insurance policies covering certain members of management.  These policies have a cash surrender value component which is carried as an asset and adjusted due to market changes, premium payments, or policy redemptions.  Cleco is unable to predict market changes and cash surrender value amounts of these policies, and management does not consider these adjustments to be a component of operational earnings.  The increase in the 2011 amount of life insurance policies as compared to the 2010 amount, as shown in the charts above, was primarily due to the receipt of life insurance death proceeds during the fourth quarter of 2011.

Tax Levelization

Generally accepted accounting principles require companies to apply an effective tax rate to interim periods that is consistent with the company's estimated annual effective tax rate.  As a result, quarterly, Cleco projects the annual effective tax rate and then adjusts the tax expense recorded in that quarter to reflect the projected annual effective tax rate. The resulting adjustment for this item had no impact for the fourth quarter of 2011.  During the fourth quarter of 2010, Cleco recorded a $0.01 per share expense from the levelization of its annual tax rate to bring the actual tax rate in line with the projected annual effective tax rate. The incremental adjustment for tax levelization is not related to operational earnings because it reflects the effect of the change in tax rates on operational earnings for the entire year.

Gains from Evangeline and Acadia Units 1 and 2 Transactions

On Feb. 22, 2010, the then existing Evangeline tolling agreement was terminated and a new tolling agreement was executed with the same counterparty resulting in the recognition of a gain of $1.51 per share for 2010.  On Feb. 23, 2010, Cleco Power's acquisition of Acadia Unit 1 and half of Acadia Power Station's common facilities was completed resulting in the recognition of a gain of $0.41 per share for 2010.  On April 29, 2011, the sale of Acadia Unit 2 and Acadia Power Station's remaining common facilities was completed resulting in the recognition of a gain of $0.63 per share for 2011.  Because these are one-time gains, management does not consider these adjustments to be components of operational earnings.  

Cleco management will discuss the company's fourth-quarter and year-to-date 2011 results during a conference call scheduled for 10 a.m. Central time (11 a.m. Eastern time) Thursday, Feb. 23, 2012.  The call will be webcast live on the Internet.  A replay will be available for 12 months.  Investors may access the webcast through the company's website at www.cleco.com by selecting "Investor Relations" and then "Q4 2011 Cleco Corporation Earnings Conference Call."

Cleco Corporation is a regional energy company headquartered in Pineville, La. Cleco owns a regulated electric utility company, Cleco Power LLC, which owns 9 generating units with a total nameplate capacity of 2,524 megawatts and serves approximately 281,000 customers in Louisiana through its retail business and 10 communities across Louisiana and Mississippi through wholesale power contracts.  Cleco also owns a wholesale energy business, Cleco Midstream Resources LLC, which owns two generating units with a total nameplate capacity of 775 megawatts.  For more information about Cleco, visitwww.cleco.com.

Analyst Contact:
Russell Davis
(318) 484-7501
 
Media Contact:
Fran Phoenix
(318) 484-7467

  Three months ended Dec. 31
(Unaudited) (million kWh)   (thousands)
  2011   2010   Change   2011   2010   Change
Electric Sales                      
Residential 772     822     (6.1)%       $58,404       $62,970     (7.3)%  
Commercial 613     614     (0.2)%     42,652     43,142     (1.1)%  
Industrial 596     592     0.7%     21,642     22,385     (3.3)%  
Other retail 32     33     (3.0)%     2,331     2,458     (5.2)%  
Surcharge -     -     -     3,161     1,683     87.8%  
Other -     -     -     (1,552)     (1,621)     4.3%  
Total retail 2,013     2,061     (2.3)%     126,638     131,017     (3.3)%  
Sales for resale 393     442     (11.1)%     11,200     13,755     (18.6)%  
Unbilled (49)     45     (208.9)%     (2,980)     (684)     (335.7)%  
Total retail and wholesale
customer sales
2,357     2,548     (7.5)%       $134,858       $144,088     (6.4)%  

  Year ended Dec. 31
(Unaudited) (million kWh)   (thousands)
  2011   2010   Change   2011   2010   Change
Electric Sales                      
Residential 3,877     3,978     (2.5)%       $294,076       $271,781     8.2%  
Commercial 2,650     2,605     1.7%     179,786     160,039     12.3%  
Industrial 2,366     2,271     4.2%     85,965     78,158     10.0%  
Other retail 134     138     (2.9)%     9,815     9,186     6.8%  
Surcharge -     -     -     10,695     8,888     20.3%  
Other -     -     -     (6,426)     (6,005 )   (7.0)%  
Total retail 9,027     8,992     0.4%     573,911     522,047     9.9%  
Sales for resale 1,888     1,983     (4.8)%     45,633     47,954     (4.8)%  
Unbilled (139)     46     (402.2)%     (14,520)     22,675     (164.0)%  
Total retail and wholesale
customer sales
10,776     11,021     (2.2)%       $605,024       $592,676     2.1%  

CLECO CORPORATION
CONSOLIDATED STATEMENTS OF INCOME
(Thousands, except share and per share amounts)
(Unaudited)
For the three months ended Dec. 31 2011   2010
Operating revenue      
Electric operations   $228,472       $246,574  
Tolling operations 2,868     3,052  
Other operations 11,187     10,105  
Affiliate revenue -     137  
Gross operating revenue 242,527     259,868  
Electric customer credits (3,406)     (3,282)  
Operating revenue, net 239,121     256,586  
Operating expenses      
Fuel used for electric generation 85,245     86,823  
Power purchased for utility customers 9,233     17,459  
Other operations 34,208     32,731  
Maintenance 22,411     22,396  
Depreciation 30,149     29,304  
Taxes other than income taxes 7,587     8,136  
Loss on sales of assets 959     375  
Total operating expenses 189,792     197,224  
Operating income 49,329     59,362  
Interest income 97     40  
Allowance for other funds used during construction 1,190     1,361  
Equity loss from investees, before tax -     (363)  
Other income 5,584     1,678  
Other expense (3,465)     (2,611)  
Interest charges      
Interest charges, including amortization of debt expense, premium, and discount, net (6,923)     24,265  
Allowance for borrowed funds used during construction (430)     (510)  
Total interest charges (7,353)     23,755  
Income before income taxes 60,088     35,712  
Federal and state income tax expense 29,445     15,087  
Net income 30,643     20,625  
Preferred dividends requirements -     12  
Net income applicable to common stock   $30,643       $20,613  
       
Average number of basic common shares outstanding 60,282,040     60,511,692  
Average number of diluted common shares outstanding 60,557,515     60,892,646  
Basic earnings per share      
Net income applicable to common stock   $0.51       $0.34  
Diluted earnings per share      
Net income applicable to common stock   $0.51       $0.34  
Cash dividends paid per share of common stock   $0.3125       $0.250  
 

CLECO CORPORATION
CONSOLIDATED STATEMENTS OF INCOME
(Thousands, except share and per share amounts)
(Unaudited)
For the year ended Dec. 31 2011   2010
Operating revenue      
Electric operations   $1,051,956       $1,086,102  
Tolling operations 19,004     26,067  
Other operations 52,962     44,529  
Affiliate revenue 202     1,564  
Gross operating revenue 1,124,124     1,158,262  
Electric customer credits (6,811)     (9,596)  
Operating revenue, net 1,117,313     1,148,666  
Operating expenses      
Fuel used for electric generation 383,254     363,550  
Power purchased for utility customers 67,898     141,864  
Other operations 126,413     119,516  
Maintenance 82,076     81,228  
Depreciation 119,790     112,203  
Taxes other than income taxes 36,356     34,626  
Loss on sales of assets 491     338  
Total operating expenses 816,278     853,325  
Operating income 301,035     295,341  
Interest income 891     409  
Allowance for other funds used during construction 4,947     12,413  
Equity income from investees, before tax 62,050     38,849  
Gain on toll settlement -     148,402  
Other income 8,914     5,242  
Other expense (8,434)     (6,991)  
Interest charges      
Interest charges, including amortization of debt expense, premium, and discount, net 72,445     100,339  
Allowance for borrowed funds used during construction (1,787)     (4,563)  
Total interest charges 70,658     95,776  
Income before income taxes 298,745     397,889  
Federal and state income tax expense 102,897     142,498  
Net income 195,848     255,391  
Preferred dividends requirements 26     46  
Preferred stock redemption costs 112     -  
Net income applicable to common stock   $195,710       $255,345  
       
Average number of basic common shares outstanding 60,488,740     60,431,142  
Average number of diluted common shares outstanding 60,833,564     60,754,589  
Basic earnings per share      
Net income applicable to common stock   $3.24       $4.23  
Diluted earnings per share      
Net income applicable to common stock   $3.22       $4.20  
Cash dividends paid per share of common stock   $1.1225       $0.975  

CLECO CORPORATION
CONSOLIDATED BALANCE SHEETS
(Thousands)
(Unaudited)
  At Dec. 31, 2011   At Dec. 31, 2010
Assets      
Current assets      
Cash and cash equivalents   $93,576       $191,128  
Accounts receivable, net 79,864     92,197  
Other current assets 283,345     325,525  
Total current assets 456,785     608,850  
Property, plant and equipment, net 2,893,899     2,784,225  
Equity investment in investees 14,540     86,732  
Prepayments, deferred charges and other 684,978     681,603  
Total assets   $4,050,202       $4,161,410  
Liabilities      
Current liabilities      
Short-term debt   $-       $150,000  
Long-term debt due within one year 24,258     12,269  
Accounts payable 129,308     125,923  
Other current liabilities 167,436     189,489  
Total current liabilities 321,002     477,681  
Deferred credits 972,287     965,813  
Long-term debt, net 1,337,056     1,399,709  
Total liabilities 2,630,345     2,843,203  
Shareholders' equity      
Preferred stock -     1,029  
Common shareholders' equity 1,447,996     1,328,816  
Accumulated other comprehensive loss (28,139)     (11,638)  
Total shareholders' equity 1,419,857     1,318,207  
Total liabilities and shareholders' equity   $4,050,202       $4,161,410  

Please note:  In addition to historical financial information, this news release contains forward-looking statements about future results and circumstances.  There are many risks and uncertainties with respect to such forward-looking statements, including the weather and other natural phenomena, state and federal legislative and regulatory initiatives, the timing and extent of changes in commodity prices and interest rates, the operating performance of Cleco Power's and Cleco Midstream's facilities, the results of Cleco Power's RFPs, the completion of the Acadiana Load Pocket project, the impact of the global economic environment, and other risks and uncertainties more fully described in the company's latest Annual Report on Form 10-K.  Actual results may differ materially from those indicated in such forward-looking statements.


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