Seeking Alpha
We cover over 5K calls/quarter
Profile| Send Message|
( followers)  

Public Service Enterprise Group (NYSE:PEG)

Q4 2005 Earnings Conference Call

February 2nd 2006, 11:00 AM.

Executives:

Sue Carson, Director of Investor Relations

Thomas. O’Flynn, Chief Financial Officer

Analysts:

Ashar Khan, SAC Capital

Paul Fremont, Jefferies

Stephen Long, Citigroup

Michael Goldenberg, Luminus Management

Clark Orsky (phonetics), KGP Asset Management

Greg Schultz, SAB Capitals

Operator

Ladies and gentlemen thank you for standing by, welcome to the Public Service Enterprise Group Fourth Quarter 2005 Earnings Conference Call and webcast. At this time all participants are in a listen-only mode. Later we will conduct a question and answer session for members of the financial community. At that time if you have question, you will need to press “1” followed by the “4” on your telephone. As a reminder this conference is being recorded, Thursday February 2nd, 2006 and will be available for telephone replay for 24 hours beginning at 1’ O’clock PM Eastern Time today until 1’ O’clock PM Eastern Time on February 3rd 2006. It will also be available as an audio webcast on PSEGs corporate website at www.pseg.com. I would now like to turn the conference over to Sue Carson, Director of Investor Relations, please go ahead.

Sue Carson, Director of Investor Relations

Thank you and good morning. We appreciate you listening in today, either by telephone or over our website. I will be returning the call over to Thomas O’Flynn PSEG Chief Financial Officer for review of our fourth quarter 2005 results and a discussion of key issues, but first I need to make a few quick points. We issued our earnings release this morning, Incase you have not seen it the copy is posted on our website www.pseg.com. We expect to file our 10-K with the Securities and Exchange Commission later this month, which will contain additional information.

In today’s webcast Tom will discuss our future outlook in his remark and so I must refer you to our forward looking disclaimer. Although we believe that our expectations are based on reasonable assumptions, we can give no assurance they will be achieved. The results or events forecast in our statements today may differ materially from actual results or events. A last word on of our businesses is contained in the various reports that we filed with the SEC. As a reminder our guidance speaks as of the date it is issued, any confirmation or updating guidance will only be done in a public manner, generally in a form of a press release, a webcast such as this, or in 8K or other SEC filings. PSEG may or may not confirm or update guidance with every press release, as a matter corporate policy we will not comment on questions regarding guidance during one on one meetings or individual phone calls.

In the body of our earnings release we provided tables that reconciled net incomes to operating earnings for both the quarterly and year to date results. We’ve adopted this format to improve the readability of the release and provide the required reconciliation’s between the GAAP terms net income, and income from continuing operations to the non-GAAP term operating earnings.

Operated earnings exclude merger related costs, operating earnings is with our standard for comparing 2005 results to 2004 and 2006 in all of our businesses. We excluded merger related cost so that we can better compare our current period results with prior and future periods. By excluding the merger related costs our results and guidance are consistent with the way Exelon is treating the merger related costs. Attachments to the press release provide the required reconciliation between the GAAP terms net income and income from continuing operations to the non-GAAP terms operating earnings for each of our major businesses.

Finally, Tom will take your questions at the conclusions of prepared remarks, in order to accomplish this call effectively we would appreciate it if you limit yourself to one question and one follow up, thank you and I will now turn the call over to Tom

Thomas. O’Flynn, Chief Financial Officer

Thanks Sue, good morning everyone, thanks for joining us. Hope you got a chance to review our release, we put out earlier this morning, on this call I will go briefly over our results for the quarter and the full year 2005, I will also discuss our expectations for 2006 the overall market environment and finally the current status for our pending merger with Exelon.

Briefly, operating earnings for PSEG were $226 million for the quarter, which excludes $6 million after tax, merger related costs and increase of a $116 million with $0.46 per share in the fourth quarter of last year. For the full year operating earnings also increased by $116 million, with $0.41 share.

I will talk more about the cause of this substantial what we expect to be sustainable increase in operating earnings in a few minutes. Power reported operating earnings of $105 millions or $0.42 per share for the quarter, more than four times the $23 million or $0.10 per share contribution last year. For the full year, Power contributed $418 million or $.1.71 to PSEG results. This was an increase of $76 million or $0.28 share over 2004.

PSE&G our utility, reported operating earnings of $68 millions, or $0.27 per quarter, $4 million improvement from last year. For the full year PSE&G reported operating earnings of $347 millions or $1.42 a share, $5 million increase.

And finally holdings reported their operating earnings of $74 million or $0.30 per share for the quarter, an increase of $34 million from last year. For the year, holdings had a record year with operating earnings of $196 million, a $61 million increase over 2004.

Summarizing the contribution by business, Power 44% PSE&G 36 % and Holdings 20%, good balance. When I go through the three major businesses, I will be using earnings per share to describe the various impacts. Our Power improvement to our performance was the key to this significant increase in earnings per quarter in the full year, overall the five units of PSEG Neclear fleet had a quarterly capacity factor of 93% versus 64% of the fourth quarter 2004. For the full year of our five unit fleet operative had a 90% capacity factor despite Hope Creek been out from most of January. This represented an 8% improvement over the 82% of capacity factor for 2004. For 2006 the plan anticipates an overall capacity factor slightly above 91%. We’ve made very good progress with operational improvements at the site since the start of the nuclear operating services agreement with Exelon last January.

Our corrected maintenance backlog has reduced by 75% and is now the best in Exelon fleet. Upgrades to the facilities and improved communication to improve the work environment for the employees. We have also improved a capital and online efficiency. We appreciate that we still have work ahead of us, before we achieve the performance level for the Exelon fleet. However, we are very pleased with our progress to-date and remain firmly committed to achieving this objective.

From a financial perspective, Nuclear was a very strong contributor in the fourth quarter, they are the only ones, contributed the fueling average in the active vessel head replacements in a world record 25 days, that is 17 days ahead of our original schedule. Also during the quarter all three New Jersey units performed well, and had a combined capacity factor that was 8% higher than planed, these two improvements provided 483,000 more megawatt hours into this system the, the time when prices average about $80 per megawatt hour. The higher energy prices were driven by the onset of cold weather in the region which increased natural gas prices. This combination of high prices increased nuclear output added about $0.09 to operating earnings for the quarter.

The strong fourth quarter we experienced in 2005 directly in subcontracted fourth quarter of 2004 and Hope Creek was on an extended outage for most of the quarter. In the release we indicate a 2005 benefit of $0.22 in the fourth quarter related to replacement power cost in 2004, $0.14 in the extended Hope Creek outage and $0.08 for replacement power during the oil spill on the Delaware river the last December that shut boat sailing for more than a week. As a reminder Hope Creek wanted to go with it’s refueling outage under the Nuclear Operating services agreement with Exelon in the Spring. The fall this year Salem 2 will undergo a refueling outage consistent with the 18 month refueling cycle for all three Jersey plants.

2005 was also a year for improved operations for our coal fleet, we improved availability over 9% from 75% to 82%. The continued execution of our established 36-month plan, we an overall reduction of 20% in the total outage days, and our capacity factor increased from 66% to 73%. The year also saw record runs at each of our Bridgeport Harbor and Mercer stations. The absence of O&M comps associated with the Hope Creek outage in the fall of 2004, was somewhat offset by higher O&M cost (indiscernible) in the quarter. The net O&M benefit for the quarter was $0.07 per share, for the full year O&M was about $0.09 per share lower than 2004. We also saw year-over-year increase in depreciation and interest with our BEC plant in Albany coming on line mid year and a full year impact of Laurenceburg which came online in mid 2004.

Turning now to the market environment, in the fourth quarter the increase in natural gas and energy prices resulted in mark-to-market losses of $0.04 per share for our non-trading energy related hedge positions. For the full year mark-to-market account accounting reduced margins by $0.05 per share. The vast majority of transactions we entered into a power are not subject to mark to market account. The few contracts that do require this treatment historically, not had a significant impact on our overall results. We recognize several that companies perform out mark to market accounting, we have now taken a step, we will do our best to clearly identified these impacts within power and potential holdings. The summary of the 28% improvement from 2004 to 2005 that power can be found in attachment 7th of the press release.

Operating income for power in 2006 is expected to be in the range of $475 million to $525 million. The midpoint in this range represents an $80 million increase over our 2005 results. The key drivers to this increase are the higher prices for our nuclear and coal output. And it was realized because of the rolling nature of a forward hedge positions. The continued improvements in operations both into nuclear and fossil. There are three major items that will mitigate some of this gross margin improvement.

Number one higher depreciation and interest gross facilitating with the commercial operation of the Linden facility in full year of the BEC. Secondly increase on land cost and finally lower Nuclear Decommissioning Trust or NDT earnings. Perhaps earning PSE&G. For the quarter the utility reported a slight improvement in earnings from $64 million to $68 million a increase of $0.01 per share. For the quarter the weather was about normal but slightly colder than the fourth quarter last year, which counts for most of the difference. For the full PSE&G reported earnings of $347 million, an increase of $5 million from 2004 but, a decrease in the earnings per share contribution of $0.02, due to higher shares outstanding.

Expected earnings for 2006 in the utility are $315 million to $335 million, the reduction of $10 million to $30 million. Most of the reductions about $17 million due to the assumption of normal weather for the year. The part of settlement of 2004, electric based rate case, a $64 million annual depreciation credit was established. This credit expired on December 31st 2005. As part of settlement PSE&G was required to make a financial filing with BPU in November of 2005 to support the corresponding increase in rate offset for the lost of this depreciation credit. This issue would expected to be resolved before the first of the year.

However, we now expect the decision to be delayed until after the first quarter. The cause of this delay on both cash and earnings which adds to $5 million pretax per month. Later this month we expect to file updated financial for our GAAP based rate case. We are expecting a decision in September 2006 with new rates effective October 1st. Now to holdings, to systemize our strategy to opportunistically monetize the absence of energy holdings, in late December we announced the sale of interest in the Seminole plant in Florida, a gain a $0.18 per share.

Earlier this week we announced the sale of our two plants in Poland, we expect the proceeds will be about $300 million after-tax which compares to the book value of about $110 million. The gains in Seminole is included in Holding’s quarterly results of $74 million or $0.30 per share. While the sale is a significant contributor to the $34 million increase in Holding’s results for the quarter, it was not the only driver. Operations at Global primarily Texas and South America, produce strong results earning $0.08 more in the fourth quarter 2005, than in the same period of ‘04. Offsetting these favorable earnings were cost associated with redemption of 2007 bonds, premium payable to bondholders, one is in cost, online swaps totaled $0.04 per share for the quarter. It was also $0.04 loss year-over-year in the KKR portfolio due to Miles (phonetics) losses in the portfolio, in 2004 disposition gains not returns. Our remaining investment in the portfolio is about $6 million.

Turning back to our Texas investment we had $0.01 loss from Mark-to-Market accounting related to a multi-year market contract we signed in the year-end. Such contracts provide financial stability but also increase our exposed to the mark-to-market impact.

During the year Holdings also made $400 million of cash distributions to PSEG in the form of dividends and redemption for preference units. In addition Holdings called for redemption of all $309 million outstanding for the 2007 sedimentary quarter percentage bond in late December and closed on that a few days ago. Looking forward to ‘06 Holding’s expect to earn $155 million to $175 million, excluding any gain from the sale of the assets in Poland. $25 million to $45 million reduction from ’05 record earnings is essential to the absence of the favorable impact from the Seminole sale we just saw. We expect Holding’s to contribute to 15% to 20% of PSEGs overall results in 2006.

Now for review of financial cash flow. Tax from operations excluding changes of working capital was fairly consistent with last year. Higher commodity prices will provide meaningful growth of power but it will result in increase working capital requirements in the form of cash collateral posting and fuel purchases. In the near term these factors increased working capital requirements by about $500 million at Power during 2005. In support of these higher collateral needs during the fourth quarter PSEG and Power established an additional $1.125 billion of bilateral credit agreements with various maturities.

We are very comfortable with our liquidity position and as of the year end PSEG had total liquidity available of $2.5 billion and joint PSEG and power facilities of approximately $1.9 billion available. Despite the working capital needs I discussed earlier total excess cash available to pay down debt which include the asset sales securitization financing and offshore tax activity was about $150 million positive.

In addition operating cash flow, this includes about $950 million of additional items. Namely Holdings $525 million of net proceeds from asset sales and offshore cash, totaling net proceeds of $325 million from sale of Waterford and PSE&G an 100 million of securitization bond that were issued since September. As I reminder, last month, we announced a $0.01 increase in our quarterly dividend, this was a third consecutive annual dividend increase we provided to our shareholders, demonstrates the continuing cash and earnings strength of PSEG.

As you are likely aware the BGS auctions will start shortly, New Jersey will auction off 1/3 of it’s residential and small commercial load for a three year period. With this structure most Electric consumers in New Jersey pay an annual price based on the average prices for past three years. In an rising price environment this helps to minimize the impact to customers.

I’ll brief you with the merger. Last week the Pennsylvania PSC approved our merger with Exelon. In New Jersey earnings for the merger review have been extended and are now expected to conclude on February 27. This will leads to enable the PGM market monitor to complete an analysis of the bears alternatives through asset sales, we provided in late December. The asset sale alternatives were all consistent with the proposed sale of 4000 Megawatt fossil generation, and the virtual divestiture of 2600 megawatt to Nuclear generation was approved by Fork last summer. Settlement discussions began December and expected to resume after the hearings conclude. Schedule dates for the administrated law judges and initial decision and final order from New Jersey BPU will be extended as a result but no firm date has been set. We expect to complete all the regulatory reviews including the DOJ and closed the merger late in the second quarter of 2006. It may occur earlier I the settlement is concluded and accepted by New Jersey BPU. That concludes my remarks and I will now open up for questions.

Questions-and-Answer Session

Operator

Thank you. Ladies and Gentlemen we will now begin the question and answer session for the members of the financial community. If you have a question please press the number “1” followed by the number “4” on your telephone, you will hear three tone prompt acknowledging your request. If your question has been answered and you wish to withdraw your polling request you may do so by pressing the “1” followed by the “3”. If you are on a speaker phone, please pickup your handset before entering your request, one moment please our first question.

Our first question comes from the line of Ashar Khan from SAC Capital, please proceed with your question.

Q – Ashar Khan

Good morning.

A – Thomas M O’Flynn

Good morning

Q – Ashar Khan

Tom, could you just mention to us, what is the average in the ‘06 forecast for power, what kind of that average PGS implied prices there for the BGS market that you will be serving in New Jersey. Could you share something, previously you guys had provided as part of your presentation, what the average embedded price was in the context , could you share, what the average embedded price is right now for 2006, based on which the power forecast is based on?

A – Thomas M O’Flynn

Yeah. Ashar, I say it no.1 on any commentary on the BGS, the price or any market there, I think, it’s with the auction, the FP auction starting on Monday, I won’t need to stay away from any market commentary. In general, I think, it’s part of that, we just want to need quantify or specify what ever assumptions were, I tell you that, when we put out our guidance, it was griping end of 2005, so it was generally a longer line of the market at that time, since that time, has been some put’s and take’s, generally comfortable with where we are at this point, but it was generally consistent worth the market towards end of the year.

Q – Ashar Khan

Okay but could you just, you can’t give us a data point as to, what is that right price in your forecast right now. What are you expecting your - the sales, I guess, you have some old contracts and new contracts and all that, but what is the current embedded price is right now in the portfolio, is this is something you can give some measure?

A – Thomas M O’Flynn

No, I think, all I can say is just regards to the PGS contracts, the public number that will last the end of May of ’06, informed to get our forecast, we use generally the end kind of market numbers.

Q – Ashar Khan

Okay.

A – Thomas M O’Flynn

I am not trying to duck your question, I was still want to get any indicators at a certain point of time, our price of PGS was X.

Q – Ashar Khan

Okay.

A – Thomas M O’Flynn

That’s unfair with the market, with the auctions just days away.

Q – Ashar Khan

Okay, could you share with us, how much you have hedged in your portfolio this year and next year?

A – Thomas M O’Flynn

I would say that late in the year, I think, it’s a third quarter call and at EEI, we talked about general forward hedge percentages, you may remember, we talked about nuclear and coal generated about 80% of megawatt hours while like 90% of our margin in megawatt hours if you will. At the end of the year, I think, in November EEI in our earnings call, just before that, we said, for ’06, we are about 85% to 90% sold on nuclear and coal, in ’07 we are about 65 to 75, in the following year, ’08 we have about 35 to 50.

Q – Ashar Khan

Okay.

A – Thomas M O’Flynn

Those are generally good numbers, we nearly happy with things that we generally look to sell 75% or more of our output coal for an 20 to 24 month period, I think, those themes are still there, I think, what we would BGS so close, we probably wanted to stay away from ticking in time those numbers to the extent there is any meaningful updates in those other script are okayed that we file by the end of February. We haven’t any up dates on those.

Q - Ashar Khan

Okay, and Tom previously you had indicated that you would based on where you were last year, I guess there was language that you expected double digit earnings growth going forwards?

A - Thomas O'Flynn

Yes.

Q - Ashar Khan

Is just, I am just trying to is that is to reaffirm Greg, you are seeing double digit earnings growth beyond ’06 for the next two or three years going forward, is that a better statement?

A - Thomas O'Flynn

Yeah, what we said is, we put our guidance growth ’06, it was so good with 3.45 to 3.75 and then we said the expected earnings per share growth in each of ’07 and ’08 to be 10% or more of that base. Yes, we still go ahead.

Q - Ashar Khan

Okay, and then can I just ask you went through the power guidance for ’06 and you said the impact were positive were the higher prices and the rolling nature and the negative toward the high depreciation, the O&M and the nuclear NDT. Could you quantify any of these either on the negative or on the positive, so we can do the offsets, what you are facing?

A - Thomas O'Flynn

Yeah, I have just couple of thing right now and then I should talk to that question, but in general the NDT, the net contribution of that, this year is going to be around $0.16, $0.17 range. That’s above consistent with where it was in ’04, but on a normal year, we just release balancing from realignment of some of that funds and in normal year we expect it to be a few penny.

Q - Ashar Khan

Okay.

A - Thomas O'Flynn

So, that’s a $0.14, $0.15 differential or reduction from ’05 to ’06. The other plant there is Linden and that’s going, we expect that to come online in April or May. And just ballpark numbers, the cost of that. The asset cost about $1 billion, and so if you can see fairly easily figure out that we’ve got depreciation that about 40 year period and there is also got IDC on that reflects 7%. So, that’s going to cause an increase in depreciation and relevant interest cost. Those are the big pieces other pieces BEC will be online for full year. Obviously those plants we can see margin, at least the gas fire powered plant increase the gas prices, energy margin is minimal in the nearly years, they will buy those plants within capacity in, and we expect that our profitability as our RTM is more firmly in place.

Q - Ashar Khan

Okay, thank you.

A - Thomas O'Flynn

Thanks.

Operator

Thank you. Our next question comes from line of Paul Fremont from Jefferies. Please proceed with your question.

Q - Paul Fremont

Thanks, just quickly can you go through the guidance for each of the segments again, I guess, I heard power 4.75 so 5.25 Holdings is 1.65 to 1.75?

A - Thomas O'Flynn

Yes.

Q - Paul Fremont

So, PSE&G and other would be what?

A - Thomas O'Flynn

You said for Holdings you said 1.55 to 1.75?

Q - Paul Fremont

I thought, I had I heard 1.65 to 1.75?

A - Thomas O'Flynn

Yeah. normally you still do. Power you are right 4.75 to 5.25, E&G is 3.15 to 3.35 and then Holdings is 1.55 to1.75.

Q - Paul Fremont

1.55 to 1.75

A - Thomas O'Flynn

1.55 to 1.75 and then we got up an offset at the parent and yes, it was up year shares outstanding, we need to put in that offset for the parent, its in the 70, 80 offset negative range, which is expenses and financing cost.

Q - Paul Fremont

Okay, and …

A - Thomas O'Flynn

It is laid out on, you know in the press release its laid out on the second, third page.

Q - Paul Fremont

Okay, and in terms of potential reaching a settlement in New Jersey, I guess in the past both Public Service and Exelon has indicated that they were optimistic about potentially being able to reach a settlement rather than having a go to a litigated decision, would you, would that sort of remain the case today as well?

A - Thomas O'Flynn

Yeah, we something catch up, that’s a reasonable expectation, Paul, it is consistent with how we manage things in the past, if you look at the year ’04 (phonetics) rate case, we had as the major restructuring, we had back then 5, 6 years ago that’s consistent. I would say that for the next few weeks Dr. Bowring the market monitor for PJM, is scheduled to put some information forward to the BPU and I believe it will be public to the PJM, that will be over next few days, he is on the – he will be providing some testimony next week and then we will back, late in February. So, during that process we will obviously be adhering to the schedule, after that point of time, there will be an opportunity, we have had some discussions in December, but obviously the last since the start of the year there has been very active and productive schedule. But, after that point of time there will be an opportunity, we have, try to atleast welcome us if it possible.

Q - Paul Fremont

And the last question from me is, any update on DOJ from the conversation in the Exelon conference call?

A - Thomas O'Flynn

No, we continue to have a dialogue. We have no material updates, obviously continue to have interaction and dialogue with those folks, it is taking longer than we had initially, potentially anticipated but we continue to have fruitful dialogue and I think we are making progress. Right in that, I should stay away from these specific playback, right Paul.

Q - Paul Fremont

Thanks.

Operator

Thank you, our next question comes from line of Stephen Long from Citigroup. Please proceed with your question?

Q - Stephen Long

Hi, good morning. Had a question here on in Q4 for, in the power segment, you guys reported $41 million in other income, how much of that was NDT related or it was something else there?

A - Thomas O'Flynn

Yeah I’d say the lions share, that would be the NDT. Of the $0.15, $0.17 that I mentioned I think they are our share that was largely third quarter and fourth quarter.

Q – Stephen Long

Largely in the third and fourth quarter.

A - Thomas O'Flynn

Yes, if I can remember.

Q – Stephen Long

When you guys gave out your 2006 guidance, you guys talked about PJ and after revising a $3 per kilowatt year. Has that changed much since you guys came out with that rate last year I means that seems to even below what you guys talked about in 2005 and going into 2005. Any near indications there Tom.

A - Thomas O'Flynn

No we’ve not seen need for changes in ‘06 capacity prices. The real discussion on capacity prices would be in the development of the RPM that would impact ‘07, ‘08 obviously thereafter. So there hasn’t been material changes to ‘06.

Q – Stephen Long

And in regards to the Energy Holdings and the repatriation, how much money did you guys bring back because of the job back then did any of that report as a gain in earnings that we might to look to strip that?

A - Thomas O'Flynn

Now it’s 242 we pay tax and that costs us $11 million. So those actually is an offset because we paid a modest 5% tax on, those 242 I think is in our press release.

Q – Stephen Long

Okay, and then deprecation, can you just remind on the BEC side and how much more additional deprecation would you expect there, what was the total cost of the plan?

A - Thomas O'Flynn

It a $500 million plant and it came in roughly in the middle of the year.

Q – Stephen Long

Okay

A - Thomas O'Flynn

So it would you ever have a full year opposed to half year.

Q – Stephen Long

Okay and then the last question I have was on a 64 million depreciation, what you guys are saying is that it you guys won’t be able to deal with this until atleast into the first quarter so that’s more than less employing that there is $15 million at the pre tax is going away is that embedded in that guidance that you gave or this is sort of everything is going to be incremental.

A - Thomas O'Flynn

No it’s not. I think the guidance we put out last October, November contemplated that we would get reasonable resolution of that effective January 1st but obviously a headwind if I call it, this fortune tend to grow up the organization.

Q – Stephen Long

Okay. And just one more thing, In the old days you guys, in 2004 you guys just talked about the trading in BGSS items in your power division to generating about a $150 maybe $200 million of gross margin, now that everything is going on is that still the case or is that a number that is now sort of changed.

A - Thomas O'Flynn

It’s till a change, I think it’s come down if you look at year-over-year it’s probably come down about $30 million if you look at overall activity which would include BGSS, it would include other assets activities we have like FTR and AR it would also include a modest amount of trading that we do. I think I’d say our trading ‘05 to ‘04 is not been a substantial part of that business but it was a lower number. Some of that market activities and then also we have had some attrition of folk to be honest as the merger is pending is not easy on people frankly as this anxiety and we had some attrition that has caused us to bow down activities.

Q – Stephen Long

So when we are thinking of the modeling aspect at least for now we should think of that as a sort of a run rate of the lower end of that like the 150 and then but going forward with merger of Exelon do you anticipate that ramping back up to more that 200 range.

A - Thomas O'Flynn

Yeah I think that a strategic discussion with ourselves and Exelon we have not done joint business planning if you will, you need to be careful with DOJ and other things out there but having some modest increase is not unreasonable.

Q – Stephen Long

Okay great thank you.

Operator

Thank you. Our next question come for the line of Michael Goldenberg from Luminus Management please proceed with your question.

Q - Michael Goldenberg

Good morning guys. Just wanted to ask a couple of questions, couple of confirmations. Now, I know Oyester Creek is run by Exelon but could you give us more updates on what’s happening there lately. I know there’s been a couple of reports about Oyster Creek, I just wanted to -?

A - Thomas O'Flynn

I ask you to stay away from that, that part of plan would speculation sure, the Exelon folks would happy to address any question.

Q - Michael Goldenberg

But given that you jointly operation most of the plants now wouldn’t you be purviewed to what’s happening there?

A - Thomas O'Flynn

No, We really in fact, we need to be very careful about information sharing from a regulatory standpoint so, no. We are obviously doing a great job Bill Lader and his team, they are at the island, where our three plants are, two Salems and Hope Creek, they are obviously doing a great job for us. So that is really where I am going to comment on.

Q - Michael Goldenberg

And secondly I wanted to ask you about the 630 projected merger closing date. Could you outline the top two things or maybe the top one thing that could delay the merger also top one or two things that could speed up the merger.

A - Thomas O'Flynn

I think the major piece, the two outstanding things are DOJ and BPU. I think the we are just thought that, general thought that the BPU would be the critical path that schedule the month of January was productive in terms of we had a lot of witness up, got through the schedule, Dr. Bowring was the market monitor for PJM, and is a very important person, we in late December, filed on two scenarios on the 4000 megawatt to divesture that we think is consistent with work. It (phonetics) consistent while it seems that we had to date we did put more, look at two scenarios out there, Dr. Bowring has in his evaluating notes, he will make that information available and then there will be some additional hearings at the BPU and he will have an opportunity to talk about those and have some Q&A so that’s going to be February. That is on next week and then they’ll come back in late February. After that then there will be the proceedings will still go along but there would an opportunity to have the settlement discussions. The current date for the BPU to reach a settlement is May 15th as I think in my prepared remark said we would expect that to be delayed and that there is no specific timeline but Dr. Bowring scheduled pushes things out four, five weeks. So that could cause a delay as much as of that period of time in the form of schedules. But as we said before we hope to have an opportunity to have some reasonable settlement discussions and I think that is going to be the major determinant of time.

Q - Michael Goldenberg

Gotcha. I mean would you say the probability of your closedown time is greater than say 70%.

A - Thomas O'Flynn

Yeah, I would rather stay away from that as well as there from the typical?

Q - Michael Goldenberg

Yeah. Understood, thanks a lot.

Operator

Thank you.

Operator instructions Our next question from the line of Clark Orsky (phonetics) from KGP Asset Management, please proceed with your question.

Q – Clark Orsky

Yeah, I had a couple questions on holdings. The proceeds from the Polish plant sales, what is the plan there, are you going to take out more debts that Holdings, that hold any hope?

A - Thomas O'Flynn

Yeah, we have not made any firm determinations at this point, obviously if you look at ‘05 we paid up about $400 million upto PSEG, paid off $320 million or so including the premium in terms of debt retirement. As there is been in the general practice we look at general full in coverage ratios. Look to provide some fairness to the PSEG bondholders but also look to buy some cash upstairs, so the closings are not expected for number of months, it was just announced a couple of days ago. The center of agreements isn’t expected for a number of months, we will accept that as we go along but no firm plan to this time.

Q – Clark Orsky

Okay, can you tell us what the total debt at holdings was at the end of the year?

A - Thomas O'Flynn

I think it was $1.7 billion, that was the full or the 300s so the 300 GAAP redeemed a couple of days ago so $1.4 billion in about that range.

Q – Clark Orsky

Okay and I guess just on Just on the Texas plants, I think you said you entered into some contracts or whatever I was wondering what the hedge position for ‘06 is.

A - Thomas O'Flynn

We generally are with our project finance, we are project financings down there in both, definitely while we are looping we generally 50% or more like with 75% hedge on our one year basis.

Q – Clark

Okay and your saying

A - Thomas O'Flynn

If you look out we are generally on the 50% range

Q – Clark

Okay. And you were saying stronger pricing there?

A - Thomas O'Flynn

Yes we had a Texas was a good pick up from ‘05 to ‘04 we are seeing a good pick up in parts spreads and in the contract we had talked about we did sign a multi year contract generally multi year contracts we are able to get normal hedge accounting on for a variety of accounting reasons we were not able to get a hedge accounting, it makes senses for us and it is only a penny now the reason that we are bring it up is just that it may increase, we are likely to do it getting mark-to-marketing issues going up going forward.

Q – Clark

Okay. I appreciate you thanks

Operator

Thank you our next question comes from Greg Schultz from SAB Capitals, please proceed with your questions.

Q - Greg Scholes

Hi. just a couple of questions, how much power do you generate for the year? and what do you expect for you know, I know your guidance, what are you sort of assuming, I know you gave me the-?

A - Thomas O'Flynn

I think, our generation is about 49, 50 megawatt hours if I guess, I remember it was-

Q - Greg Scholes

Yep. 50 gigs and then next year what are you sort of looking at?

A - Thomas O'Flynn

The same kind of range.

Q - Greg Scholes

Okay. And then your guiding, If look at this right for PSE&G your guiding operating earnings down a little bit.

A - Thomas O'Flynn

Yes, it is mostly weather.

Q - Greg Scholes

Yes, it is largely weather.

A - Thomas O'Flynn

As I said Its down 10 to 30 and weather was 17 so.

Q - Greg Scholes

And my last question is just how much debt you had at the end of the year at the parent please?

A - Thomas O'Flynn

Unconsolidated. I mean they have to circle back again that number its probably about $1.5 billion so we may circle back you in, including taxes, but we are preferred to note, things of that nature.

Operator

Thank you and follow up questions from the line of Stephen Long from CitiGroup. Please proceed with your questions?

Q - Stephen Long

Thanks, Tom on parent and looking out into ‘07, ‘08 are we still going to see 78, 80 a year

A - Thomas O'Flynn

For this year we will, we shook them down over time in cash generation to page down debt over 2 years.

Q - Stephen Long

Okay and then what did you guys talk about in terms of stated strategy that you had in Connecticut, once the contract ends at the end of this year, with the power prices that you guys are getting out there right now but the step up is quite significant depending on what you guys plan to do with that?

A - Thomas O'Flynn

We haven’t specifically addressed our market strategy, we obviously aware of what is out there in the markets and there is liquid market out there, so we don’t give hedge ratio’s market by market.

Q - Stephen Long

Right.

A - Thomas O'Flynn

But, as you know there was obviously the opportunities for us to use the market to look things beyond, to look at opportunities beyond the expirations of our contract at the end of this year. Just in terms of lie cap, we have been involved in lie cap discussions, the recent settlement we have not signed on to, we think there is some improvement that could be done, we continue to be in active participant in that process we think that number of constructive pieces of it.

Q - Stephen Long

Okay and then was there environment issues with Bridgeport? I thought there was something that you needed to look at.

A - Thomas O'Flynn

There are some and that would be some CapEx, will be consistent with our, generally consistent with our CapEx that we provide on a five year basis. I think it’s a ‘07, ‘08 generally in the plan we provide a CapEx, how do you look forward every K, we would be doing that in our K that we be filing at the end of the month.

Q - Stephen Long

And then was there anything down about, I believe is it Hudson that you guys were looking at any update on that?

A - Thomas O'Flynn

No update on that from what was in our Q with our settlement there are issues with us running that after the end of this year it is a very valuable plant for PJM and we have been some discussions as out lined in our Q with environmentally, it is largely the New Jersey authorities on thinking about managed way to continue that had that plants available but there is no material updates from our Q, I mean its pretty well online.

Q - Stephen Long

Okay but the CapEx is often not embedded in there, right?

A - Thomas O'Flynn

That’s correct. That at this point if I am clear the lifecycle of Hudson it’s very clear on our minds its Bridgeport is an extremely valuable plant it here to stay there is some CapEx we need to deal with it, generally consistent with our table, Hudson is more subject to discussion.

Q - Stephen Long

Okay great thank you.

Operator

Thank you. We have another follow up question from the line of Ashar Khan from SAC Capital

Q - Ashar Khan

Tom, could you just provide, I believe there is some upgrades on the nuclear coming up could you just provide us the timeline of those upgrades or they have been done I thought they were ‘06, ‘07 timeframe.

A - Thomas O'Flynn

It’s more ‘07, ‘08. It’s been, the nuclear industry has had some other issues with a couple of other plants that have upgrades and that’s slow down approval process.

Q - Ashar Khan

Could you remind us that, the amount in climbing down in the planning?

A - Thomas O'Flynn

If we created a 170 megawatts and it is in the ‘07, ‘08 timeframe.

Q – Ashar Khan

‘07 and ’08 timeframe. Okay and then just going back to what you said, you said it was the output for about 50000 and if I heard you said same output in ‘06 and in the beginning part of the call you said nuclear and coal is about 80% correct?

A - Thomas O'Flynn

Yes.

Q – Ashar Khan

Okay. Thank you.

A - Thomas O'Flynn

Assume one of our tables, the nuclear call was-

Q – Ashar Khan

Just about 40,000?

A - Thomas O'Flynn

I think it is a little over, I think it is about 85% this year.

Q – Ashar Khan

Okay is that what you are expecting next year in ‘06

A - Thomas O'Flynn

Yes.

Q – Ashar Khan

So 84%, 85% of the 50.

A - Thomas O'Flynn

Yes.

Q – Ashar Khan

Okay.

A - Thomas O'Flynn

It’s actually it is 85 its 86 I am sorry 85 nuclear is 55% and coal is 31%.

Q – Ashar Khan

Ok that’s what you expect again 2006?

A - Thomas O'Flynn

Yes that’s an indication our facilities are running well and we continue to expect that to continue.

Q – Ashar Khan

Okay

A - Thomas O'Flynn

Thank you.

Operator

Thanks. The next follow up question comes from the Greg Schultz from SAB Capitals, please proceed.

Q - Greg Schultz

Hi, a couple of follow ups. The fuel costs, are those expected to go, it would sort of go next year I don’t know how your coal, how you are hedged on coal, just a general?

A - Thomas O'Flynn

In general we did see fuel cost to be, we asked the question before but fuel cost ton for ton, we thought it was going to be in a 13% to 15% increase ‘04 to ‘05 it would be probably more like 20% increase, there is some deliverability issues and other things or these-.

Q - Greg Schultz

Are you paying sort of full market on that at this point?

A - Thomas O'Flynn

We’d expected to be more the increase, probably more about 10%.

Q - Greg Schultz

Okay and just back on.

A - Thomas O'Flynn

That’s what I think 20% that ton for ton you’ll find the total of coal is larger good news cause plants are doing more.

Q - Greg Schultz

Sure, sure and then just on your – on the sales that you make and it prices you hedged when the BGS comes up whatever price you get is the price get and you don’t’ and so all your hedge sales are just on the, on what you don’t call, BGS is that, how it works, we knew it’s at 85%.

A - Thomas O'Flynn

The numbers that I threw out, I think Ashar asked me, I threw out the hedge ratios, they were in our EEI presentation 85, 96, 75, 35, 50 that’s on our expected total coal in nuclear output, which is the lion share obviously the margin, in large we have shown pieces of them in our IR stuff in the past, we had to get CGF contracts that we are through that, to the extent that doesn’t do all the full hedging that we want then we look at other contracts that, the contracts that just the counter part is a general contract that within PJM or various liquid markets.

Q - Greg Schultz

But you don’t. I am just confused, you don’t hedge the BGS piece before indeed?

A - Thomas O'Flynn

We generally I don’t want to go into BGS capacity but we generally have capacity here and we are, we have facilities that are in New Jersey generally situated in goods parts relative to load and we generally have BGS contract coming often then we would have generation available, that could be used.

Q - Greg Schultz

Priceless. Right so, whatever, you generated 50 gigs of what is chunk of it, a portion of that be BGS, some price we will find out and then the large remaining stuff you sold last I guess some point last year and what point at throughout the year you sort of a the hedge out remaining piece.

A - Thomas O'Flynn

I mean, generally I mean if you assume the hedge ratio that I talked about and time aggressive then things will allow other things were added, sometimes BGS contract sometime the general market contracts, we generally think that kind of forward look is low forward that we want try to maintain some have a little more head, sometimes a little less hedge depending on variety of factors.

Q - Greg Schultz

And I guess that problem that I am having is your, may be you guys are very constructive but on the guidance, like if I sort of take it, so what I think to be genesis kind of look like and sort of our prices were last surely, you hedged that sort of hard to get the numbers you to talking you about.

A - Thomas O'Flynn

For big centers if you look at ’06 price, ’06 price is quite good. But as we said in November we are 85% or 90% hedge.

Q - Greg Schultz

No but I may be unfaking though, even faking sort of those lower sort of mid ’05 prices and then throwing in something for the BGS seem like I am missing something.

A - Thomas O'Flynn

Like you mean that there should be more margin?

Q - Greg Schultz

Yeah that’s a right.

A - Thomas O'Flynn

Actually, I said should be $18 million of after tax incremental margin for prices and amounts about, by then it is offset, as I said is up so that you are right, there is some probable assets other than it offsets and I mean, O&M, NDT and Linden, where you will see depreciation. And ITC, so happy I threw it off.

Q - Greg Schultz

Okay. Thank you for the detail.

Operator

Thank you, Mr. O’Flynn, there are no further questions at this time please continue with your presentation or closing remarks.

Thomas. O’Flynn, Chief Financial Officer

Okay thanks everybody for joining in, we are also very pleased with our year end results, we think we got a business model with balances and earnings growth, and proven risk management and we are pleased that we had some very good numbers coming out of all our businesses and also look forward to continue progress, and in terms of the merger with Exelon.

Operator

Thank you ladies and gentlemen, that conclude your conference call for today, you may disconnect and thank you for participation.

Copyright policy: All transcripts on this site are the copyright of Seeking Alpha. However, we view them as an important resource for bloggers and journalists, and are excited to contribute to the democratization of financial information on the Internet. (Until now investors have had to pay thousands of dollars in subscription fees for transcripts.) So our reproduction policy is as follows: You may quote up to 400 words of any transcript on the condition that you attribute the transcript to Seeking Alpha and either link to the original transcript or to www.SeekingAlpha.com. All other use is prohibited.

THE INFORMATION CONTAINED HERE IS A TEXTUAL REPRESENTATION OF THE APPLICABLE COMPANY'S CONFERENCE CALL, CONFERENCE PRESENTATION OR OTHER AUDIO PRESENTATION, AND WHILE EFFORTS ARE MADE TO PROVIDE AN ACCURATE TRANSCRIPTION, THERE MAY BE MATERIAL ERRORS, OMISSIONS, OR INACCURACIES IN THE REPORTING OF THE SUBSTANCE OF THE AUDIO PRESENTATIONS. IN NO WAY DOES SEEKING ALPHA ASSUME ANY RESPONSIBILITY FOR ANY INVESTMENT OR OTHER DECISIONS MADE BASED UPON THE INFORMATION PROVIDED ON THIS WEB SITE OR IN ANY TRANSCRIPT. USERS ARE ADVISED TO REVIEW THE APPLICABLE COMPANY'S AUDIO PRESENTATION ITSELF AND THE APPLICABLE COMPANY'S SEC FILINGS BEFORE MAKING ANY INVESTMENT OR OTHER DECISIONS.

If you have any additional questions about our online transcripts, please contact us at: transcripts@seekingalpha.com. Thank you!

Source: Public Service Enterprise Group Q4 2005 Earnings Conference Call Transcript (PEG)
This Transcript
All Transcripts