Empire District Electric Company (The) (EDE)

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The Empire District Electric Company (EDE)

Q4 2008 Earnings Call

February 6, 2009 1:00 pm ET


Jan Watson – Secretary & Treasurer

William L. Gipson – President, Chief Executive Officer & Director

Gregory A. Knapp – Chief Financial Officer & Vice President Finance


Anthony Crowdell - Jeffries and Company

Phyllis Gray - Dwight Asset Management

Timothy Winter - Jesup & Lamont Securities Corporation

[Unidentified Analyst]



Welcome to The Empire District Electric Q4 earnings conference call. During today’s presentation all parties will be in a listen only mode. Following the presentation the conference will be opened for questions. (Operator Instructions) This conference is being recorded today, the 6th of February, 2009. I would now like to turn the conference over to Jan Watson.

Jan Watson

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 31, 2008. A live webcast of this call is available on the Empire website at www.EmpireDistrict.com.

Given our presentation this afternoon will be Bill Gipson, President and CEO and Greg Knapp, Vice President and CFO. A Q&A session will follow the presentation. Our press release announcing fourth quarter earnings was issued yesterday afternoon. The press release may be accessed on our website or a copy can be emailed or faxed to you by calling 417-625-6142. A telephonic replay of the call will be available for two weeks by dialing 800-405-2236 and entering passcode 111125524#. The webcast will also be available for replay on our website.

As always, 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 can differ materially from those currently anticipated by reason of the factors noted in our filings with the SEC including our most recent Form 10K and Form 10Q.

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 as 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.

I’d now like to introduce Bill Gibson, President and CEO of Empire District Electric.

William L. Gipson

Today we’re going to discuss the financial results for the fourth quarter and 12 months ended December 31 ’08 and we’ll also update you on a few other recent events. At yesterday’s meeting the board of directors declared a quarterly dividend of $0.32 per share payable March 15th for shareholders of record as of March 1, 2009. This represents about a 7.1% yield against yesterday’s closing price of $18.13.

We reported consolidated fourth quarter 2008 earnings of $7.7 million or $0.23 per share and that compares to the same period in 2007 when we reported a loss of about $400,000 or $0.01 a share. For the 12 months ended December 31 earnings were $39.7 million, a $1.17 a share and that compares to the previous year 12 months ended earnings at $33.2 million or $1.09 a share.

Yesterday we also announced some upcoming changes to our board of directors. Board Chairman, Myron McKinney and Mary McCleary Posner will retire from the board on April 23. Both have served our board since 1991. Myron retired from the company as president and CEO in 2002 following a 35 year career at the company primarily in the customer service area. Mrs. Posner is President and a principal in Posner McCleary, Inc. an international management, consulting, marketing and advertising firm. We appreciate their many years of service and counsel to our company.

We have two outstanding candidates that will stand for election by our shareholders in April. They are Ms. Bonnie Lind and Dr. Paul Portney. Bonnie current serves as senior vice president and chief financial officer and treasurer for Neenah in Alpharetta, Georgia. Neenah has an annual revenue of about $990 million. She’s been with Neenah since 2004.

Neenah is a company that produces premium paper and specialty products used in various applications including filtration, printing and writing and has backing and component materials for specialized industrial and consumer applications. In her current position Bonnie is pretty active with capital markets and serves as the liaison with the company’s audit committee, external auditors, financial institutions and of course the investment community.

Prior to her employment at Neenah, Bonnie held various financial and strategic management positions at Kimberly-Clark Corporation from 1982 to 2003. She holds a BA in finance from the University of Georgia in Athens.

Paul currently serves as Dean of the Eller College of Management at the University of Arizona Tucson, a position he has held since 2005. Paul has also held various leadership positions including president and CEO at a organization called Resources For The Future, a Washington DC non-profit, non-partisan organization that conducts independent research on environmental, energy and natural resources issues. He has served as chief economist on the Whitehouse council on environmental quality and has held various teaching assignments at Princeton University and the University of California Berkley.

He holds a Ph.D. in economics from Northwestern in Evanston Illinois, a BA in economics from Alma College in Alma Michigan. We look forward to working with Bonnie and Paul and believe they bring valuable expertise to our board.

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