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Ameren (AEE) Q4 Earnings Beat Estimates, Revenues Down Y/Y

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Ameren Corporation’s AEE fourth-quarter 2019 earnings of 38 cents per share from continuing operations exceeded the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 31 cents by 22.6%. Moreover, the reported figure jumped 35.7% from the 28 cents registered in the year-ago quarter.

The company generated 2019 adjusted earnings of $3.35 per share from continuing operations, which surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $3.29 by 1.8%. The bottom line, however, edged down 0.6% from the year-ago tally.

Total Revenues

Total revenues came in at $1,316 million in the reported quarter, which declined 7.3% year over year, due to lower electric as well as natural gas sales volumes. Revenues also missed the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $1,452 million by 9.4%.

In 2019, the company generated total revenues of $5,910 million, which slid 6% from the year-ago tally. The top-line figure also lagged the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $6,040 million by 2.2%.

Highlights of the Release

Ameren’s total electricity sales volumes declined 12% to 17,178 million kilowatt hours (kWh) compared with the 19,537 million kWh witnessed in the year-ago quarter. However, gas volumes expanded 3.3% to 63 million dekatherms.

Total operating expenses summed $1,137 million, down 9.3% year over year.

The company’s interest expenses in the fourth quarter were $91 million compared with the prior-year quarter’s $99 million.

Segment Results

The Ameren Missouri segment reported operating income of $426 million in 2019 compared with the $482 million recorded in 2018. This year-over-year downside resulted from lower electric retail sales during the year.

The Ameren Illinois Electric Distribution segment reported operating income of $146 million in 2019 compared with the $139 million registered in 2018. The year-over-year rise reflects increased earnings on infrastructure and energy efficiency investments.

The Ameren Illinois Natural Gas segment reported operating income of $84 million in 2019 compared with the $71 million generated in 2018. This year-over-year improvement resulted from higher delivery service rates and increased earnings on infrastructure investments.

The Ameren Transmission segment reported operating income of $185 million in 2019 compared with the prior year’s $164 million. The upswing reflects increased earnings on infrastructure investments.

Ameren Corporation Price, Consensus and EPS Surprise

Financial Condition

Ameren reported cash and cash equivalents of $16 million as of Dec 31, 2019, in line with the figure registered at 2018 end.

As of Dec 31, 2019, long-term debt totaled $8,915 million compared with $7,859 million as of Dec 31, 2018.

In 2019, cash from operating activities amounted to $2,170 million, similar to the figure as of Dec 31, 2018.

Guidance

Ameren has issued its 2020 guidance. The company expects its earnings in the range of $3.40 per share to $3.60 per share. Currently, the Zacks Consensus Estimate for the ongoing-year earnings is pegged at $3.47, lower than the mid-point of management’s guidance.

Ameren also affirmed its 2018 through 2023 compound annual earnings per share growth expectations of 6-8%.

Zacks Rank

Ameren currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

Recent Utility Releases

CMS Energy CMS reported fourth-quarter 2019 adjusted earnings per share (EPS) of 68 cents, significantly up 70% from the year-ago quarter's reported figure of 40 cents. The bottom-line number, however, missed the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 69 cents.

NextEra Energy NEE posted adjusted earnings of $1.44 per share for the December-end quarter, lagging the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $1.54 by 6.5%.

Dominion Energy D delivered operating earnings of $1.18 per share for the October-December period, beating the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $1.16 by 1.7%.

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