Sempra Energy (SRE)

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Sempra Energy (SRE)

Q1 2011 Earnings Call

May 09, 2011 1:00 pm ET

Executives

Michael Allman - Chairman of Southern California Gas Company, Chief Executive Officer of Southern California Gas Company and President of Southern California Gas Company

Steven Davis - Vice President of Investor Relations

Donald Felsinger - Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of Executive Committee

Mark Snell - Chief Financial Officer and Executive Vice President

Analysts

Paul Patterson - Glenrock Associates

Ashar Khan - SAC Capital

Debra Bromberg - Jefferies & Company, Inc.

Mark Barnett - Morningstar

Leslie Rich - Columbia Management

Presentation

Operator

Good day, and welcome to the Sempra Energy First Quarter 2011 Earnings Conference Call. Today's conference is being recorded. At this time, I would like to turn the conference over to Mr. Steve Davis. Please go ahead, sir.

Steven Davis

Thank you, Rochelle. Good morning, and thank you for joining us. I’m Steve Davis, Vice President of Investor Relations. This morning, we'll be discussing Sempra Energy's first quarter 2011 financial results. A live webcast of this teleconference and slide presentation is available on our website under the Investors section.

With us today in San Diego are several members of our management team, including Don Felsinger, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer; Neal Schmale, President and Chief Operating Officer; Mark Snell, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer; Debbie Reed, Executive Vice President; and Joe Householder, Senior Vice President and Controller.

You’ll note that Slide 2 contains our Safe Harbor statement. Please remember that this call contains forward-looking statements that are not historical fact and constitute forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Forward-looking statements are not guarantees of performance. As you know, they involve risks, uncertainties, and assumptions, so future results may differ materially from those expressed on our call. These risks, uncertainties and assumptions are described at the bottom of today’s press release, and are further discussed in the company’s reports filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. It’s important to note that all of the earnings per share amounts in our presentation are shown on a diluted basis.

With that, I'll turn it over to Don, who will begin with Slide 3.

Donald Felsinger

Thanks, Steve. And again, thank you all for joining us. On today's call, we'll start by reviewing our first quarter financial results, and I'll then give you an operational update on our businesses. Early this morning, we reported first quarter earnings of $258 million or $1.07 per share, compared with $106 million or $0.42 per share in the same period last year.

The first quarter of last year included a $96 million or $0.38 per share charge related to the settlement of energy crisis litigation. Excluding the impact of this charge in last year's first quarter, our quarterly earnings per share increased by 34%. All of our businesses are performing well, and each of our business units reported an increase in earnings in the first quarter over the year-ago period.

There are 2 things I'd like to highlight before Mark goes into the details of the financial results. As we discussed at the March analyst conference, with our exit from the commodities trading business, we have refocused our strategy on regulated utilities and contracted energy infrastructure. This quarter's strong results across all of our business segments demonstrates our execution on that strategy going forward.

And second, a key element of our renewable business strategy is in the contracting of our portfolio of projects at Sempra Generation. We recently received regulatory approval for the first 150-megawatt phase of the 700-megawatt Mesquite Solar project and signed contracts for 2 wind projects totaling about 175 megawatts.

Now I'd like to hand it over to Mark, so he can take you through some of the details of the financial results beginning with Slide 4.

Mark Snell

Thanks, Don. At San Diego Gas & Electric, earnings for the first quarter of 2011 were $89 million compared with earnings of $83 million in the year-ago quarter. The increase was primarily due to $7 million of higher authorized margins, offset by $5 million of higher wildfire insurance premiums this year. And in last year's first quarter, we had a $3 million charge related to the passage of the healthcare bill.

At Southern California Gas, first quarter 2011 earnings were $68 million. That's up from $65 million in the first quarter of 2010. Last year's results included a $7 million regulatory award and a $13 million tax charge related to passage of the healthcare bill.

Now let's go to Slide 5. Our generation business [Sempra Generation] recorded earnings of $44 million in the first quarter of 2011 compared with a loss of $51 million in the same quarter in 2010. The increase for the quarter is due to lower operating and maintenance costs, less scheduled plant maintenance and an $84 million charge related to a litigation settlement last year.

Now please move to Slide 6. Sempra Pipelines & Storage recorded earnings of $54 million in the first quarter of 2011, up from earnings of $38 million in the same quarter of 2010. The quarter benefited from $8 million of higher earnings from pipeline assets in Mexico, which were acquired in the second quarter of 2010, and from $6 million of higher operating results in Chile and Peru. I'd also like to mention that in the next quarter, we expect to report a onetime gain related to our increased ownership stake in Chile and Peru, due to a step-up of our prior investment to fair value. The size of the gain has not yet been determined, and it was not included in our earnings guidance that we previously provided for this year.

Read the rest of this transcript for free on seekingalpha.com