Empire District Electric Company (The) (EDE)

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The Empire District Electric Company Inc. (EDE)

Q407 Earnings Call

February 1, 2008 13:00 pm ET


Jan Watson - Secretary and Treasurer.

Bill Gipson – President and CEO.

Greg Knapp – VP and CFO


Anthony Crowdell - Jefferies and Co.

Nancy Doyle - MetLife

Doug Fischer – Wachovia Securities

John Hulihan -Empire District Electric Company



Good morning, good afternoon ladies and gentlemen, thank you for standing by and welcome to the Empire District Electric Fourth Quarter Earnings Call. During todays presentation all parties will be in a listen-only mode. Following the presentation the conference will be open for questions. (Operator Instruction). This conference call is being recorded today Friday, February 1, 2008.

I would now like to turn the conference over to Ms. Jan Watson. Please go ahead, ma'am.

Jan Watson Secretary and Treasurer

Hello everyone. Thank you for joining us for the Empire District Electric Company's teleconference to discuss the company's operations and to review the financial results for the fourth quarter and 12 months ended December 31st, 2007. A live webcast of this call is available on the Empire Website at www.empiredistrict.com.

Bill Gipson, President and CEO of the Empire District Electric Company, and Greg Knapp, Vice President and CFO, he will be giving our presentation this afternoon and will be available to answer questions following the presentation.

Our press release announcing third quarter earnings was issued yesterday evening. The press release may be accessed on our website, or if you would like a copy sent to you please call Marilyn Ponder at 417-625-6142. A telephonic replay of the call will be available for two weeks by dialing 800-405-2236 and entering pass code 11107620, pound. The Webcast will also be available for replay on our website.

Let me remind you that certain matters discussed in this call are forward-looking statements intended to qualify for the Safe Harbor from liability established by the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Such statements address future plans, objectives, expectations and events or conditions concerning various matters. Actual results in each case can differ materially from those currently anticipated in such statements by reason of the factors noted in our filings with the SEC, including our most recent Form 10-K and Form 10-Q. The earnings per share impact of revenue and expense items are all discussed on an after-tax basis, and compare the period referred to with the same period of the prior year. The estimated earnings per share impact of individual items is a non-GAAP presentation however, we believe this information is useful in understanding the change in the company’s earnings between periods.

Now I would like to turn it over to Bill Gipson to begin our presentation.

Bill Gipson – President and CEO

Thanks, Jan and welcome everyone. As Jan said, we are going to discuss the results for fourth quarter and 12 months ended December 31, as well as some other activities impacting the company during the quarter.

As you all probably know yesterday we reported consolidated earnings for the 12 months ended December 31 a 33.2 million or $1.09 per share compared to 2006 earnings of 39.3 million or $1.39 per share. December 31 fourth quarter results was a loss of 0.4 million or about a finish year, and compares to earnings last year of 8.2 million or $0.27 per share.

At the board meeting yesterday the board declared a quarterly dividend of $0.32 per share payable March 15, 2008 for shareholders of record as of March 1. This represents a 5.8 percent annual yield at yesterday’s closing price of $22 and $0.9. Also in yesterdays meeting the board elected Randy Laney to serve as Vice Chairman of the Board effective May 1 of this year. Our current Chairman of the Board Myron McKinney is chosen not to speak reelection in of April 2009 and this will allow for a seamless transition upon Myron’s retirement. Randy is Vice Chairman of the Investment Group and he was Co-Founder and Chairman of Mercari Technologies of Fayetteville Arkansas, a merchandising optimization firm and was Co-Founder and partner in Bentonville Associates specializing in consumer service in consulting and private investment. Randy is an attorney, he formerly served as Vice President in Finance and Treasure of Walmart Stores in Bentonville Arkansas. Randy served as a Director on our Board since 2003.

During the quarter we experienced two significant events. First was a record setting eyes storm, the second to hit our service territory in 2007. Freezing rain begin during the night on December 8, and by the next morning we had about 40,000 without service. By the time the multiple ways of this storm had impacted our area, we had about 65,000 customers without service. The storm severity is equipped only by the storm we suffered earlier in 2007 during January. As they did in January our employees and the additional 1153 trimming a line through personnel we brought into help tackle the task of restoration.

Also in December during the reassembly of the Asbury power plant generator which had been down for routine maintenance, the unit sales has inspection causing a delay in the plant returning to service. On December 10, after an evaluation of the unit, consultation with contractor and the representative of the manufacture, we announced the corrective action would be necessary and the plant would be out of service for an additional 60 days. We estimate that as variable returns severance between February 7 and 8, apart probably between 7 and 9 next week.

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