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CenterPoint Energy, Inc. (CNP - Analyst Report) reported its first quarter 2014 adjusted earnings of 43 cents per share, surpassing both the Zacks Consensus Estimate as well as the prior-year bottom line of 34 cents by 26.5%. The earnings outperformance was primarily driven by an increase in customer counts and colder-than-normal winter.

Total Revenue

CenterPoint Energy’s total revenue for the reported quarter was $3,163 million, beating the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $2,161 million by 46.4%. Quarterly revenues improved 32.5% from the year-ago figure.

Operational Results

CenterPoint Energy’s total expenses rose 39.5% year over year to $2,868 million, primarily due to a surge in natural gas expenses.

The company’s operating income decreased 11.1% year over year to $295 million in the reported quarter.

In first quarter 2014, total interest expenses decreased 14.2% year over year to $114 million.

Segment Results

In first quarter 2014, CenterPoint Energy’s Electric Transmission & Distribution segment reported an operating income of $105 million, up 25% year over year. Natural Gas Distribution’s operating income climbed 16.5% year over year to $162 million. The Energy Services segment’s operating income skyrocketed 271.4% year over year to $26 million. The Other Operations segment reported an operating income of $2 million. The Interstate Pipelines and Field Services segments did not post any operating income.

Financial Condition

As of Mar 31, 2014, CenterPoint Energy reported cash and cash equivalents of $379 million, up from $208 million as of Dec 31, 2013.

Total long-term debt was $8,056 million as of Mar 31, 2014, up from $7,817 million at the end of Dec 31, 2013.

In the first three months of 2014, the company’s net cash provided by operating activities was $380 million, considerably lower than $533 million in the year-ago comparable period.

In the reported quarter, CenterPoint Energy’s total capital expenditures increased 14.4% to $286 million from $250 million in the year ago comparable period, primarily on the back of higher investments in the Electric Transmission & Distribution and Natural Gas Distribution segments.

Guidance

CenterPoint Energy increased its guidance for 2014 earnings to $1.10 - $1.19 per share from the previous projection of $1.08 - $1.17 per share. The upward revisions of earnings guidance was mainly driven by a rise in estimates for utility operations earnings.

Peer Reviews

Exelon Corp. (EXC - Analyst Report) announced first quarter 2014 adjusted operating earnings of 62 cents per share, missing the Zacks Consensus Estimate by 10.1%.

Zacks Rank

CenterPoint Energy currently has a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). However, some better-ranked stocks in the same industry include CMS Energy Corp. (CMS - Analyst Report) and Entergy Corp. (ETR - Analyst Report). Each stock carries a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

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