COLUMBUS, Ohio, Nov. 10, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- American Electric Power (NYSE: AEP) has set its operating earnings guidance ranges and capital expenditure budgets for 2014 through 2016. AEP management will discuss the company's financial outlook and earnings growth strategy at the annual Edison Electric Institute Financial Conference that begins today in Orlando, Fla.
AEP narrowed its operating earnings guidance range (earnings excluding special items) for 2014 to $3.20 to $3.40 per share from its original guidance range set in February 2013. Confirming the company's previously announced growth rate of 4 to 6 percent off of its original 2013 guidance of $3.05 to $3.25 per share, AEP's operating earnings guidance range is estimated at $3.30 to $3.60 per share for 2015 and at $3.45 to $3.85 per share for 2016. Operating earnings guidance for 2013 was narrowed in October to $3.15 to $3.25 per share.
AEP reaffirmed its previously announced 2014 and 2015 capital budgets of $3.8 billion per year. The company also forecasted its 2016 capital investment budget at $3.8 billion.
In providing operating earnings guidance, there could be differences between operating earnings and Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) earnings for matters such as impairments, divestitures or changes in accounting principles. AEP management is not able to estimate the impact, if any, on GAAP earnings of these items, and therefore is not able to provide a corresponding GAAP equivalent for earnings guidance.
"Our operating earnings projections for the next three years are supported by continued successful execution of the earnings growth strategy that we established early this year. That strategy is based on what we've proven we do well – growing our rate base through investment in our regulated operations and achieving cost savings through sustainable process improvements," said Nicholas K. Akins, AEP's president and chief executive officer.
"Investment in our regulated utilities will be focused on infrastructure that enhances reliability and improves the customer experience. We will continue to allocate additional capital to our transmission business, and we expect the earnings contribution of AEP Transmission Holding Co. to nearly double in 2014," Akins said.
AEP plans to invest nearly $5 billion in transmission between 2014 and 2016 in AEP Transmission Holding Co. and through its regulated utility operating companies.
AEP expects to complete separation of its Ohio generation assets from its Ohio wires business at the end of 2013 and begin operating its Ohio generation as a competitive business in 2014.
"Our earnings growth projections are based on results from our core regulated businesses. In addition, our unregulated operations are well-positioned to compete successfully. The cost and operational profile of our unregulated generation fleet are very competitive, and we will manage this business to be cash-flow positive through at least 2016," Akins said.
AEP has a strong balance sheet and a stable credit outlook. The company's capital plan is supported by cash flows and financial discipline without an anticipated need for equity financing beyond the company's existing dividend reinvestment plan and employee purchases of company stock through the 401K plans. AEP expects to hold operations and maintenance expenses essentially flat at $2.8 billion, net of earnings offsets, through 2016.
"We remain focused on cost discipline and continued improvement in how we do business," Akins said. "We are expanding our focus on process improvement and lean performance over the next two years to achieve sustainable savings and to support earnings growth in a time of flat demand and low market prices for electricity."
American Electric Power is one of the largest electric utilities in the United States, delivering electricity to more than 5.3 million customers in 11 states. AEP ranks among the nation's largest generators of electricity, owning nearly 38,000 megawatts of generating capacity in the U.S. AEP also owns the nation's largest electricity transmission system, a nearly 40,000-mile network that includes more 765-kilovolt extra-high voltage transmission lines than all other U.S. transmission systems combined. AEP's transmission system directly or indirectly serves about 10 percent of the electricity demand in the Eastern Interconnection, the interconnected transmission system that covers 38 eastern and central U.S. states and eastern Canada, and approximately 11 percent of the electricity demand in ERCOT, the transmission system that covers much of Texas. AEP's utility units operate as AEP Ohio, AEP Texas, Appalachian Power (in Virginia and West Virginia), AEP Appalachian Power (in Tennessee), Indiana Michigan Power, Kentucky Power, Public Service Company of Oklahoma, and Southwestern Electric Power Company (in Arkansas, Louisiana and east Texas). AEP's headquarters are in Columbus, Ohio.
This report made by American Electric Power and its Registrant Subsidiaries contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. Although AEP and each of its Registrant Subsidiaries believe that their expectations are based on reasonable assumptions, any such statements may be influenced by factors that could cause actual outcomes and results to be materially different from those projected. Among the factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those in the forward-looking statements are: the economic climate, growth or contraction within and changes in market demand and demographic patterns in AEP's service territory; inflationary or deflationary interest rate trends; volatility in the financial markets, particularly developments affecting the availability of capital on reasonable terms and developments impairing AEP's ability to finance new capital projects and refinance existing debt at attractive rates; the availability and cost of funds to finance working capital and capital needs, particularly during periods when the time lag between incurring costs and recovery is long and the costs are material; electric load, customer growth and the impact of retail competition, particularly in Ohio; weather conditions, including storms and drought conditions, and AEP's ability to recover significant storm restoration costs through applicable rate mechanisms; available sources and costs of, and transportation for, fuels and the creditworthiness and performance of fuel suppliers and transporters; availability of necessary generating capacity and the performance of AEP's generating plants; AEP's ability to recover increases in fuel and other energy costs through regulated or competitive electric rates; AEP's ability to build or acquire generating capacity and transmission lines and facilities (including the ability to obtain any necessary regulatory approvals and permits) when needed at acceptable prices and terms and to recover those costs (including the costs of projects that are cancelled) through applicable rate cases or competitive rates; new legislation, litigation and government regulation, including oversight of nuclear generation, energy commodity trading and new or heightened requirements for reduced emissions of sulfur, nitrogen, mercury, carbon, soot or particulate matter and other substances, or additional regulation of fly ash and similar combustion products that could impact the continued operation and cost recovery of AEP's plants and related assets; evolving public perception of the risks associated with fuels used before, during and after the generation of electricity, including nuclear fuel; a reduction in the federal statutory tax rate that could result in an accelerated return of deferred federal income taxes to customers; timing and resolution of pending and future rate cases, negotiations and other regulatory decisions, including rate or other recovery of new investments in generation, distribution and transmission service and environmental compliance; resolution of litigation; AEP's ability to constrain operation and maintenance costs; AEP's ability to develop and execute a strategy based on a view regarding prices of electricity, coal, natural gas and other energy-related commodities; prices and demand for power that AEP generates and sells at wholesale; changes in technology, particularly with respect to new, developing or alternative sources of generation; AEP's ability to recover through rates or market prices any remaining unrecovered investment in generating units that may be retired before the end of their previously projected useful lives; volatility and changes in markets for electricity, coal, natural gas and other energy-related commodities; changes in utility regulation, including the implementation of Electric Security Plans and the transition to market and expected legal separation for generation in Ohio and the allocation of costs within regional transmission organizations, including PJM and SPP; AEP's ability to successfully manage negotiations with stakeholders and obtain regulatory approval to terminate the Interconnection Agreement; changes in the creditworthiness of the counterparties with whom AEP has contractual arrangements, including participants in the energy trading market; actions of rating agencies, including changes in the ratings of AEP debt; the impact of volatility in the capital markets on the value of the investments held by AEP's pension, other postretirement benefit plans, captive insurance entity and nuclear decommissioning trust and the impact on future funding requirements; accounting pronouncements periodically issued by accounting standard-setting bodies; and other risks and unforeseen events, including wars, the effects of terrorism (including increased security costs), embargoes, cyber security threats and other catastrophic events.
SOURCE American Electric Power