Nonutility Companies Post Lower Gains, Await Mergers

By Published On: March 10, 2006

With many public companies getting out of the generation business in California, and others in bankruptcy protection, the year-end and quarterly earnings reports offered thin grist for the financial mill. Yet their corporate machinations around sales and consolidation are anything but routine. Calpine is in bankruptcy protection. Mirant just emerged from Chapter 11 protection in January. Duke Energy is selling its California plants. Dynegy is selling its share of West Coast power to NRG Energy. FPL Group and Constellation have announced a merger. Duke’s acquisition of Cinergy is nearly complete. Constellation – Owner of the High Desert power plant, Constellation posted fourth-quarter earnings of $195 million in the last quarter of 2005, compared with $135 million a year earlier. For 2005, the company posted $623 million, compared with $540 million in 2004. Constellation has agreed to a merger with FPL Group. Duke – Duke, which is selling off its Morro Bay, Moss Landing, and Oakland power plants, reported $601 million in income for the last quarter of the year, compared with $356 million a year ago. The company, which is merging with Cinergy, ended last year with a $1.81 billion net profit, up from $1.46 billion in 2004. FPL Group – FPL, which has a significant number of wind turbines in California, reported 2005 fourth-quarter net income of $206 million, compared with $173 million in the fourth quarter of 2004. For the full year 2005, FPL Group reported net income of $885 million, compared with $887 million in 2004. The company is merging with Constellation. Reliant – The company reported a loss for the fourth quarter of $255 million, down from a loss of $324 million in the same quarter a year before. For the year, Reliant posted a loss of $668 million, compared with a loss of $392 million for 2004. NRG – NRG logged $64 million for the fourth quarter last year. In the same quarter a year earlier, the company posted $19 million. For the year, NRG posted $84 million in net income, versus $186 million in 2004. The company is buying up Dynegy’s half interest in West Coast Power, including the El Segundo, Encina, Red Bluff, and Chowchilla power plants. Company executives, however, expressed little interest in the plants. “I wouldn’t say [California] is our highest priority,” said David Crane, NRG president and chief executive officer. NRG expects to close the sales transaction with Dynegy this month, he added. According to executives, the company plans to use the California power plants as they are “before building a bigger business.” Business analyst Motley Fool noted that NRG’s financials are “confusing or just plain ugly” and employ “obtuse” accounting. Still, Motley Fool gave the business a qualified thumbs-up for investors, stating that the formerly bankrupt firm “is a different company today and it’s a different environment for power producers.” Williams – The company reported net income of $313.6 million in the last quarter of 2005, compared with $163.7 million in the same quarter of 2004. Williams is focusing on its natural gas capacity to serve the East, the Northwest, and Florida. Its California operations – tolling agreements for power plants – were responsible for lower margins due to weather, according to the company’s report.

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