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California’s largest regulated electric and gas utility, PG&E Corporation’s (PCG - Analyst Report) operating earning per share of $1.08 in the third quarter of 2011 beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $1.06. Results also comfortably surpassed the year-ago number of $1.02.
The upsurge in earnings year over year came from higher rates (10 cents) and miscellaneous items (3 cents). However this was partially offset by litigation and regulatory matters (4 cents) and earnings dilutive issuance of common stock (3 cents). Overall, the variance in operating earnings came in at 6 cents higher year over year.
On a reported basis, the company clocked earnings of 50 cents compared with 66 cents in the year-ago quarter. In the reported quarter the 58-cent difference between the reported and adjusted earnings was due to charges related to gas pipeline related expenses (40 cents) and environmental-related costs (18 cents).
PG&E’s revenue of $3.9 billion came in line with the Zacks Consensus Estimate and comfortably beat the year-ago quarterly revenue of $3.5 billion. Electric revenues rose 11.6% year over year to $3.2 billion, while natural gas revenues rose 2.4% to $672 million. Earnings from operations were $436 million versus $398 million in the year-ago quarter. Overall net income came in at $200 million compared to $258 million in the year-ago quarter.
PG&E generates revenues mainly through the sale and delivery of electricity and natural gas to customers. It engages in the business of electricity and natural gas distribution, electricity generation, procurement, and natural gas procurement, transportation, and storage.
PG&E’s supportive regulatory environment in California and forward looking rate cases ensure a steady earnings stream. Going forward, favorable decisions from regulators, long-term supply contracts, diversification into alternative power sources and infrastructure improvement programs bode well for the company.
These positives, however, will be partially offset by risks, including the present unfavorable macro backdrop, headwinds in the California economy, tepid demand for electricity, cost of pipeline safety-related work and power-price volatility.
Overall the company reaffirmed its fiscal 2011 operating earnings per share guidance range to $3.45–$3.60. However, after incorporating the effects of costs associated with gas pipeline safety-related work, earnings on a reported basis are expected to be in the range of $1.99–$2.77.
The company also issued its 2012 earnings guidance and anticipates earnings from operations in the range of $3.10–$3.30 per share while GAAP earnings are expected in the range of $2.36–$3.16.
PG&E currently retains a Zacks #3 Rank (short-term Hold rating). We maintain our long term Neutral recommendation on the stock. In the near-term we would advise investors to focus on its Zacks #1 Rank (short-term Strong Buy rating) peers like CPFL Energia S.A. (CPL) and UIL Holdings Corporation (UIL - Snapshot Report).
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