JUNO BEACH, Fla. - FPL Group, Inc. (NYSE: FPL) today reported 2005 third quarter net income on a GAAP basis of $339 million, or $0.87 per share, compared with $320 million, or $0.88 per share, in the third quarter of 2004. FPL Group’s net income for the third quarter of 2005 included a net unrealized after-tax loss of $56 million associated with the mark-to-market effect of non-qualifying hedges. The results for last year’s third quarter included a net unrealized after-tax loss of $6 million associated with the mark-to-market effect of non-qualifying hedges.
Excluding the mark-to-market effect of non-qualifying hedges, FPL Group’s earnings would have been $395 million, or $1.01 per share, for the third quarter of 2005, compared with $326 million, or $0.90 per share, in the third quarter of 2004. FPL Group’s management uses adjusted earnings internally for financial planning, for analysis of performance, for reporting of results to the Board of Directors and for the company’s employee incentive compensation plan. FPL Group also uses earnings expressed in this fashion when communicating its earnings outlook to analysts and investors. FPL Group management believes that adjusted earnings provide a more meaningful representation of FPL Group’s fundamental earnings power.
“While we are currently intensely focused on the challenges of completing the restoration of service to Florida Power & Light’s customers in the wake of the extensive outages caused by Hurricane Wilma, we cannot ignore the quarter just passed,” said Lew Hay, chairman, president and chief executive officer of FPL Group. “FPL Group had a good quarter, driven heavily by double-digit adjusted earnings growth at FPL Energy. Strong performance from the merchant and contracted portfolios along with new project additions benefited FPL Energy’s quarterly results.”
“Florida Power & Light also contributed a strong performance, primarily through the influence of much warmer than normal weather. Comparisons with last year are also favorable given that last year’s third quarter results were depressed owing to the impacts of hurricanes Charley, Frances and Jeanne. On a weather-normalized basis, FPL’s performance was roughly in line with our expectations.”
“We are pleased with the year-to-date performance of FPL Group. With the recovery in FPL’s revenues in the third quarter, we otherwise would have been in a position to return to our original full-year 2005 adjusted expectations of $2.50-2.60 per share, but the impact of Hurricane Wilma clearly will have an impact. As always, our expectations assume normal weather and exclude the cumulative effect of adopting new accounting standards as well as the mark-to-market effect of non-qualifying hedges, neither of which can be determined at this time.”
Florida Power & Light
Third quarter 2005 net income for Florida Power & Light, FPL Group's principal subsidiary, was $311 million or $0.80 per share, compared to $275 million or $0.76 per share for the prior-year quarter. The primary driver of this increase was weather. The quarter saw cooling degree days 18 percent above normal, while last year’s results were depressed by approximately $20 million due to hurricane impacts. Absent the favorable weather comparisons, FPL’s earnings would have been down, reflecting the expenses associated with the introduction to service of 1,900 megawatts of new generating capacity at the Martin and Manatee sites needed to meet growth in demand. During the quarter FPL set several new all-time peak demand records, with a maximum load of 22,361 megawatts on August 17, an increase of nearly 9 percent over the 2004 season’s peak.
The average number of FPL accounts in the third quarter of 2005 increased by 98,000, or 2.3 percent, over the comparable period in the prior year. Retail sales of electricity were up 10.8 percent during the third quarter, with about 7.5 percent of this due to weather comparisons.
Operations and maintenance (O&M) expense was up moderately compared to the prior-year quarter, owing both to the introduction of the Martin and Manatee plant expansions and continued cost pressures in nuclear maintenance and employee benefits. Both of these effects were consistent with the company’s expectations.
The introduction of the Martin and Manatee plant expansions into service in June also resulted in increased depreciation expense in the third quarter. Depreciation expense is expected to continue to increase as additional investments are made in generation and distribution expansion to support customer growth.
As with the prior-year quarter, the impact of hurricanes had a negative impact on FPL’s quarterly results. The hurricanes negatively impacted FPL by approximately $0.02 per share in the third quarter of 2005, compared to negative $0.07 per share in the prior-year quarter. Hurricane Katrina hit southern Florida and caused significant damage and customer outages. At the height of Hurricane Katrina, nearly 1.5 million FPL customers were without power. Although FPL was spared direct hits from hurricanes Dennis and Rita, both storms resulted in customer outages and damage to the company’s electric infrastructure. Hurricane Wilma struck FPL’s service territory on October 24, and its effects are not reflected in the third quarter.
In August, the Florida Public Service Commission (PSC) approved a settlement agreement with all intervenors on FPL’s 2006 base rate increase request. The settlement agreement keeps base rates flat in 2006 and provides regulatory clarity through 2009. The new base rate agreement will go into effect January 1, 2006 and will remain in effect at least through 2009.
“Last year we indicated that we expected the second half of the year to be challenging for Florida Power & Light,” said Hay. “We are pleased to have completed our base rate proceedings and to have a settlement agreement in place that provides a clear framework for dealing with the challenges of a rapidly growing service territory. We believe the agreement represents a fair balancing of customer and shareholder interests. We were fortunate that warm weather during the quarter allowed us to make up the shortfall in revenue we had experienced earlier in the year. Overall, except for the impacts of Hurricane Wilma, which cannot be determined at this time, FPL is on track for delivering the levels of performance that we originally expected when we started the year.”
FPL Energy, the wholesale generation subsidiary of FPL Group, reported third quarter 2005 net income on a GAAP basis of $44 million or $0.11 per share, compared to $61 million or $0.17 per share in the prior-year quarter. FPL Energy’s net income for the third quarter of 2005 included a net unrealized after-tax loss of $56 million associated with the mark-to-market effect of non-qualifying hedges. The results for last year’s third quarter included a net unrealized after-tax loss of $6 million associated with the mark-to-market effect of non-qualifying hedges.
Excluding the mark-to-market effect of non-qualifying hedges, 2005 net income for FPL Energy would have been $100 million, or $0.25 per share, compared to $67 million, or $0.19 per share, in 2004. The company noted that the loss in the non-qualifying hedge category is offset by increases in the fair value of physical asset positions in the portfolio, which are not marked-to-market under GAAP. The same factors that drove the decline in value of the hedges, in general, also increased the future value of nearly all of FPL Energy’s merchant assets.
“Natural gas prices increased even more in the third quarter than they had done in the entire first half of the year, pushing power prices in most competitive markets sharply higher,” said Moray Dewhurst, chief financial officer of FPL Group. “Consequently, the value of the non-qualifying hedges declined. However, we remain economically neutral to this effect, since the underlying asset positions increased in value by similar amounts. Meanwhile, we continued to add to our hedges for 2006 and 2007 at the new, higher prices. As a result, the overall fair value of FPL Energy’s portfolio increased substantially.”
The improvements in pricing in the forward commodity markets enabled FPL Energy to continue selling forward the output from its power plants for 2006 and 2007. FPL Energy now has more than 86 percent of 2006 expected gross margin from its wholesale generation fleet protected against fuel and power market volatility. As of September 30, 2005, FPL Energy’s overall 2006 contract coverage has increased ubstantially, with approximately 82 percent of the capacity of the current portfolio under contract; while 2007 contract coverage stands at 60 percent.
FPL Energy’s growth in adjusted earnings in the third quarter is due primarily to the strong performance of the merchant portfolio, the addition of new projects, the ongoing positive impact of previous contract restructurings and a continued strong operational performance across the portfolio.
FPL Energy continued to make excellent progress in its wind development program. In August, the company began construction on an approximately 40 megawatt expansion of its Weatherford Wind Energy Center, located near Weatherford, Oklahoma. In addition, construction also began on the approximately 50 megawatt Wilton Wind Energy Center located near Wilton, North Dakota. FPL Energy reported that its 2005 wind program is now expected to total 521 megawatts of new wind projects, of which more than 400 megawatts are already in service with the remainder expected to be completed around the end of the year. Given the two year extension of the federal wind production tax credit and a strong pipeline of wind projects, FPL Energy now plans to add a combined total of 1,250 to 1,500 megawatts of new wind projects in 2006 and 2007.
“The improvements in the forward commodity markets that we observed through the first half of the year continued in the third quarter, enabling us to add to hedge positions,” said Hay. “The success we have had in hedging our portfolio – protecting our generation fleet from fuel and power market volatility – coupled with the green light for continued large-scale wind development, gives us a great deal of confidence in our ability to continue to profitably grow the business. The key drivers that will enable us to continue to deliver double-digit adjusted earnings growth in this business for the next several years are clearly visible.”
Corporate and Other
Corporate and Other negatively impacted third quarter 2005 net income by $16 million, or $0.04 per share, primarily driven by interest expense.
“FPL Group has put the building blocks in place to achieve average annual adjusted earnings growth of nine to ten percent over the balance of the decade,” Hay said. “Our growth projections are based on several factors, including continued strong growth in FPL Energy’s wind business, continued strength in commodity markets and modest annual earnings growth at Florida Power & Light of three to four percent which is in-line with its historical growth. As always, our earnings expectations exclude the effect of adopting new accounting standards, as well as the mark-to-market effect of non-qualifying hedges, neither of which can be determined at this time. In addition, our baseline expectations assume normal weather, both at Florida Power & Light and FPL Energy and operating performance consistent with our historical levels.”
Given the results to date and prior to the impact of Hurricane Wilma, FPL Group would have expected adjusted earnings for the full-year 2005 to be $2.50 to $2.60 per share. However, Hurricane Wilma will clearly have a negative impact in the fourth quarter but its magnitude cannot be estimated at present.
For 2006 FPL Group expects adjusted earnings to be in the range of $2.80 to $2.90 per share, based on the information currently available. The outlook is based on the expectation of Florida Power & Light contributing $2.05 to $2.10 per share, FPL Energy contributing $0.90 to $1.00 per share and Corporate & Other reducing earnings by $0.15 to $0.20 per share.
Similarly, for 2007 FPL Group expects adjusted earnings to be in the range of $3.15 to $3.35 per share. This outlook is based on Florida Power & Light contributing $2.15 to $2.25 per share, FPL Energy contributing $1.15 to $1.35 per share and Corporate & Other reducing earnings by $0.15 to $0.20 per share.
As previously announced, FPL Group’s third quarter earnings conference call is scheduled for 9 a.m. EDT on Friday, Nov. 4, 2005. The webcast is available on FPL Group’s website by accessing the following link,http://www.FPLGroup.com/investor/contents/investor_index.shtml. The slides accompanying the presentation may be downloaded at www.FPLGroup.com beginning at 7:30 a.m. EDT today. For persons unable to listen to the live webcast, a replay will be available for 90 days by accessing the same link as listed above.
FPL Group, with annual revenues of more than $10 billion, is nationally known as a high quality, efficient, and customer-driven organization focused on energy-related products and services. With a growing presence in 26 states, it is widely recognized as one of the country's premier power companies. Its principal subsidiary, Florida Power & Light Company, serves 4.3 million customer accounts in Florida. FPL Energy, LLC, an FPL Group wholesale electricity generating subsidiary, is a leader in producing electricity from clean and renewable fuels. Additional information is available on the Internet at www.FPLGroup.com, www.FPL.com andwww.FPLEnergy.com.
Cautionary Statements And Risk Factors That May Affect Future Results
In connection with the safe harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 (Reform Act), FPL Group, Inc. (FPL Group) and Florida Power & Light Company (FPL) are hereby filing cautionary statements identifying important factors that could cause FPL Group's or FPL's actual results to differ materially from those projected in forward-looking statements (as such term is defined in the Reform Act) made by or on behalf of FPL Group and FPL in this press release, in presentations, on their respective websites, in response to questions or otherwise. Any statements that express, or involve discussions as to, expectations, beliefs, plans, objectives, assumptions or future events or performance (often, but not always, through the use of words or phrases such as will likely result, are expected to, will continue, is anticipated, believe, could, estimated, may, plan, potential, projection, target, outlook) are not statements of historical facts and may be forward-looking. Forward-looking statements involve estimates, assumptions and uncertainties. Accordingly, any such statements are qualified in their entirety by reference to, and are accompanied by, the following important factors (in addition to any assumptions and other factors referred to specifically in connection with such forward-looking statements) that could cause FPL Group's or FPL's actual results to differ materially from those contained in forward-looking statements made by or on behalf of FPL Group and FPL.
Any forward-looking statement speaks only as of the date on which such statement is made, and FPL Group and FPL undertake no obligation to update any forward-looking statement to reflect events or circumstances, including unanticipated events, after the date on which such statement is made. New factors emerge from time to time and it is not possible for management to predict all of such factors, nor can it assess the impact of each such factor on the business or the extent to which any factor, or combination of factors, may cause actual results to differ materially from those contained in any forward-looking statement.
The following are some important factors that could have a significant impact on FPL Group's and FPL's operations and financial results, and could cause FPL Group's and FPL's actual results or outcomes to differ materially from those discussed in the forward-looking statements:
FPL Group and FPL are subject to changes in laws or regulations, including the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978, as amended (PURPA), the Public Utility Holding Company Act of 1935, as amended (Holding Company Act), the Federal Power Act, the Atomic Energy Act of 1954, as amended, the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and certain sections of the Florida statutes relating to public utilities, changing governmental policies and regulatory actions, including those of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the Florida Public Service Commission (FPSC) and the utility commissions of other states in which FPL Group has operations, and the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), with respect to, among other things, allowed rates of return, industry and rate structure, operation of nuclear power facilities, operation and construction of plant facilities, operation and construction of transmission facilities, acquisition, disposal, depreciation and amortization of assets and facilities, recovery of fuel and purchased power costs, decommissioning costs, return on common equity (ROE) and equity ratio limits, and present or prospective wholesale and retail competition (including but not limited to retail wheeling and transmission costs). The FPSC has the authority to disallow recovery by FPL of any and all costs that it considers excessive or imprudently incurred.
The regulatory process generally restricts FPL's ability to grow earnings and does not provide any assurance as to achievement of earnings levels.
FPL Group and FPL are subject to extensive federal, state and local environmental statutes, rules and regulations relating to air quality, water quality, waste management, wildlife mortality, natural resources and health and safety that could, among other things, restrict or limit the output of certain facilities or the use of certain fuels required for the production of electricity and/or require additional pollution control equipment and otherwise increase costs. There are significant capital, operating and other costs associated with compliance with these environmental statutes, rules and regulations, and those costs could be even more significant in the future.
FPL Group and FPL operate in a changing market environment influenced by various legislative and regulatory initiatives regarding deregulation, regulation or restructuring of the energy industry, including deregulation of the production and sale of electricity. FPL Group and its subsidiaries will need to adapt to these changes and may face increasing competitive pressure.
FPL Group's and FPL's results of operations could be affected by FPL's ability to renegotiate franchise agreements with municipalities and counties in Florida.
The operation of power generation facilities involves many risks, including start up risks, breakdown or failure of equipment, transmission lines or pipelines, use of new technology, the dependence on a specific fuel source, including the supply and transportation of fuel, or the impact of unusual or adverse weather conditions (including natural disasters such as hurricanes), as well as the risk of performance below expected or contracted levels of output or efficiency. This could result in lost revenues and/or increased expenses. Insurance, warranties or performance guarantees may not cover any or all of the lost revenues or increased expenses, including the cost of replacement power. In addition to these risks, FPL Group's and FPL's nuclear units face certain risks that are unique to the nuclear industry including the ability to store and/or dispose of spent nuclear fuel, as well as additional regulatory actions up to and including shutdown of the units stemming from public safety concerns, whether at FPL Group's and FPL's plants, or at the plants of other nuclear operators. Breakdown or failure of an FPL Energy, LLC (FPL Energy) operating facility may prevent the facility from performing under applicable power sales agreements which, in certain situations, could result in termination of the agreement or incurring a liability for liquidated damages.
FPL Group's and FPL's ability to successfully and timely complete their power generation facilities currently under construction, those projects yet to begin construction or capital improvements to existing facilities within established budgets is contingent upon many variables and subject to substantial risks. Should any such efforts be unsuccessful, FPL Group and FPL could be subject to additional costs, termination payments under committed contracts, and/or the write-off of their investment in the project or improvement.
FPL Group and FPL use derivative instruments, such as swaps, options, futures and forwards, to manage their commodity and financial market risks, and, to a lesser extent, engage in limited trading activities. FPL Group could recognize financial losses as a result of volatility in the market values of these contracts, or if a counterparty fails to perform. In the absence of actively quoted market prices and pricing information from external sources, the valuation of these derivative instruments involves management's judgment or use of estimates. As a result, changes in the underlying assumptions or use of alternative valuation methods could affect the reported fair value of these contracts. In addition, FPL's use of such instruments could be subject to prudency challenges and if found imprudent, cost recovery could be disallowed by the FPSC.
There are other risks associated with FPL Energy. In addition to risks discussed elsewhere, risk factors specifically affecting FPL Energy's success in competitive wholesale markets include the ability to efficiently develop and operate generating assets, the successful and timely completion of project restructuring activities, maintenance of the qualifying facility status of certain projects, the price and supply of fuel (including transportation), transmission constraints, competition from new sources of generation, excess generation capacity and demand for power. There can be significant volatility in market prices for fuel and electricity, and there are other financial, counterparty and market risks that are beyond the control of FPL Energy. FPL Energy's inability or failure to effectively hedge its assets or positions against changes in commodity prices, interest rates, counterparty credit risk or other risk measures could significantly impair FPL Group's future financial results. In keeping with industry trends, a portion of FPL Energy's power generation facilities operate wholly or partially without long-term power purchase agreements. As a result, power from these facilities is sold on the spot market or on a short-term contractual basis, which may affect the volatility of FPL Group's financial results. In addition, FPL Energy's business depends upon transmission facilities owned and operated by others; if transmission is disrupted or capacity is inadequate or unavailable, FPL Energy's ability to sell and deliver its wholesale power may be limited.
FPL Group is likely to encounter significant competition for acquisition opportunities that may become available as a result of the consolidation of the power industry, in general, as well as the passage of the Energy Policy Act of 2005. In addition, FPL Group may be unable to identify attractive acquisition opportunities at favorable prices and to successfully and timely complete and integrate them.
FPL Group and FPL rely on access to capital markets as a significant source of liquidity for capital requirements not satisfied by operating cash flows. The inability of FPL Group, FPL Group Capital Inc (FPL Group Capital) and FPL to maintain their current credit ratings could affect their ability to raise capital on favorable terms, particularly during times of uncertainty in the capital markets, which, in turn, could impact FPL Group's and FPL's ability to grow their businesses and would likely increase interest costs.
FPL Group’s and FPL’s results of operations are affected by the growth in customer accounts in FPL’s service area. Customer growth can be affected by population growth as well as economic factors in Florida, including job and income growth, housing starts and new home prices. Customer growth directly influences the demand for electricity and the need for additional power generation and power delivery facilities at FPL.
FPL Group's and FPL's results of operations are affected by changes in the weather. Weather conditions directly influence the demand for electricity and natural gas and affect the price of energy commodities, and can affect the production of electricity at wind and hydro-powered facilities.
FPL Group’s and FPL’s results of operations can be affected by the impact of severe weather which can be destructive, causing outages and property damage, may affect fuel supply and could require additional costs to be incurred. At FPL, recovery of these costs is subject to FPSC approval.
FPL Group and FPL are subject to costs and other effects of legal and administrative proceedings, settlements, investigations and claims, as well as the effect of new, or changes in, tax laws, rates or policies, rates of inflation, accounting standards, securities laws or corporate governance requirements.
FPL Group and FPL are subject to direct and indirect effects of terrorist threats and activities. Generation and transmission facilities, in general, have been identified as potential targets. The effects of terrorist threats and activities include, among other things, terrorist actions or responses to such actions or threats, the inability to generate, purchase or transmit power, the risk of a significant slowdown in growth or a decline in the U.S. economy, delay in economic recovery in the United States, and the increased cost and adequacy of security and insurance.
FPL Group's and FPL's ability to obtain insurance, and the cost of and coverage provided by such insurance, could be affected by national, state or local events as well as company-specific events.
FPL Group and FPL are subject to employee workforce factors, including loss or retirement of key executives, availability of qualified personnel, collective bargaining agreements with union employees and work stoppage.
The issues and associated risks and uncertainties described above are not the only ones FPL Group and FPL may face. Additional issues may arise or become material as the energy industry evolves. The risks and uncertainties associated with these additional issues could impair FPL Group's and FPL's businesses and financial results in the future.