Avista Corp. Reports Financial Results for Fourth Quarter and Fiscal Year 2020, Initiates 2021 to 2023 Earnings Guidance
For the fourth quarter of 2020, net income attributable to
“In the midst of this ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, thanks to the dedication and determination of our employees, we’ve taken many steps to move our business forward. We’ve finished installing nearly all of our smart meters across
“Plus, as a part of Avista’s longstanding commitment to corporate responsibility, we recently published our first series of enhanced Environmental, Social and Governance commitments and disclosures that can be found in the Corporate Responsibility section of Avista’s website. Avista has also been recognized as one of the ‘World’s Most Ethical Companies’ for the second consecutive year by
"With respect to results,
“AEL&P’s earnings exceeded expectations due to higher sales volumes to residential customers resulting from cooler weather than the prior year and lower operating costs resulting from COVID-19 related operational restrictions.
“We are initiating our 2021, 2022, and 2023 earnings guidance with consolidated ranges of
Summary Results: Avista Corp.’s results for the fourth quarter of 2020 and year ended
|Net Income (Loss) by Business Segment:|
|Total net income attributable to
|Earnings (Loss) per Diluted Share by Business Segment:|
|Total earnings per diluted share attributable to
Analysis of 2020 Consolidated Earnings
The table below presents the change in net income attributable to
|2019 consolidated earnings||$||50,776||$||0.76||$||196,979||$||2.97|
|Changes in net income and diluted earnings per share:|
|Electric utility margin (including intracompany) (b)||3,926||0.06||13,948||0.20|
|Natural gas utility margin (including intracompany) (c)||3,545||0.05||7,231||0.10|
|Other operating expenses (d)||3,922||0.06||(7,090||)||(0.10||)|
|Merger transaction costs (e)||—||—||13,293||0.19|
|Depreciation and amortization (f)||(2,521||)||(0.04||)||(13,853||)||(0.21||)|
|Merger termination fee (g)||—||—||(79,254||)||(1.16||)|
|Income tax at effective rate (i)||1,075||0.02||6,233||0.09|
|Dilution on earnings||n/a||(0.03||)||n/a||(0.05||)|
|Other businesses earnings (j)||(3,301||)||(0.05||)||(8,961||)||(0.14||)|
|2020 consolidated earnings||$||58,735||$||0.85||$||129,488||$||1.90|
(a) The tax impact of each line item was calculated using
(b) Electric utility margin (operating revenues less resource costs) increased for the fourth quarter and full year and was impacted primarily by the following:
- General rate increase in
Washington, effective April 1, 2020.
- Customer growth contributed additional retail electric revenue
- A decrease in net power supply costs caused by a decrease in power purchased prices and thermal fuel costs for the full year 2020 when compared to 2019. For the full year 2020, we recognized a pre-tax benefit of
$6.2 millionunder the Energy Recovery Mechanism (ERM) compared to a pre-tax benefit of $4.4 millionfor the full year 2019.
- For the full year, when compared to normal, there was a decrease in overall load of 3 percent, which consisted of a 6 percent decrease in commercial and a 9 percent decrease in industrial, which was partially offset by an increase of 3 percent in residential load, mainly due to COVID-19. A portion of the commercial and all industrial loads are not covered by our decoupling mechanisms.
(c) Natural gas utility margin (operating revenues less resource costs) increased for the fourth quarter and full year 2020 and was impacted primarily by the following:
- General rate increases in
Oregon, effective Jan. 15, 2020and Washington, effective April 1, 2020.
- Customer growth contributed additional retail natural gas revenue.
(d) Other operating expenses increased for the full year 2020 primarily due to increased generation and distribution operating and maintenance costs. There was also a disallowance from the
(e) The merger transaction costs are related to the proposed (now terminated) acquisition by Hydro One.
(f) Depreciation and amortization increased from additions to utility plant. The year-to-date also included an item in the second quarter of 2020 where we were able to utilize
(g) As a result of the termination of the proposed (now terminated) merger, Hydro One paid
(h) Other for the full year 2020 was an increase to earnings primarily due to a decrease in non-service pension and benefits. The increase to earnings in other was partially offset by an increase in property taxes.
(i) Our effective tax rate was 5.2 percent for 2020, compared to 13.8 percent for 2019. The decrease in the tax rate was primarily due to the offset of deferred income taxes against accelerated depreciation for Colstrip that was recorded in the second quarter of 2020 and 2019 impacted the effective tax rates. This amounted to
(j) For the year-to-date, earnings at our other businesses decreased primarily due to the sale of METALfx in 2019.
Non-Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (Non-GAAP) Financial Measures
The tables above and below include electric utility margin and natural gas utility margin, two financial measures that are considered “non-GAAP financial measures.” Generally, a non-GAAP financial measure is a numerical measure of a company's financial performance, financial position or cash flows that excludes (or includes) amounts that are included (or excluded) in the most directly comparable measure calculated and presented in accordance with GAAP, which for utility margin is utility operating revenues.
The presentation of electric utility margin and natural gas utility margin is intended to enhance the understanding of operating performance. We use these measures internally and believe they provide useful information to investors in their analysis of how changes in loads (due to weather, economic or other conditions), rates, supply costs and other factors impact our results of operations. Changes in loads, as well as power and natural gas supply costs, are generally deferred and recovered from customers through regulatory accounting mechanisms. Accordingly, the analysis of utility margin generally excludes most of the change in revenue resulting from these regulatory mechanisms. We present electric and natural gas utility margin separately below for
The following table presents
(Net of Tax)
|For the three months ended
|For the three months ended
|For the twelve months ended
|For the twelve months ended
(a) Income taxes for 2020 and 2019 were calculated using
Liquidity and Capital Resources
We have a
In 2020, we issued common stock for total net proceeds of about
2021 Liquidity Transactions
During 2021, we expect to issue approximately
Capital Expenditures and Other Investments
For 2020, Avista Utilities’ capital expenditures were
In 2021, we expect capital expenditures to total
In addition, we expect to invest about
2021 Earnings Guidance and Outlook
We experienced regulatory lag during 2020 and we expect this to continue through the end of 2022 due to our continued investment in utility infrastructure and because we delayed filings in our
Our 2021 earnings guidance range reflects unrecovered structural costs estimated to reduce the return on equity by approximately 70 basis points, as well as regulatory timing lag estimated to reduce the return on equity by approximately 100 basis points. This results in an expected return on equity for
For 2021, we expect AEL&P to contribute in the range of
We expect the other businesses to have a loss of
Our outlook for
NOTE: We will host a conference call with financial analysts and investors on
This news release contains forward-looking statements, including statements regarding our current expectations for future financial performance and cash flows, capital expenditures, financing plans, our current plans or objectives for future operations and other factors, which may affect the company in the future. Such statements are subject to a variety of risks, uncertainties and other factors, most of which are beyond our control and many of which could have significant impact on our operations, results of operations, financial condition or cash flows and could cause actual results to differ materially from those anticipated in such statements.
The following are among the important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from the forward-looking statements:
Utility Regulatory Risk
state and federal regulatory decisions or related judicial decisions that affect our ability to recover costs and earn a reasonable return including, but not limited to, disallowance or delay in the recovery of capital investments, operating costs, commodity costs, interest rate swap derivatives, the ordering of refunds to customers and discretion over allowed return on investment; the loss of regulatory accounting treatment, which could require the write-off of regulatory assets and the loss of regulatory deferral and recovery mechanisms;
pandemics (including the current COVID-19 pandemic), which could disrupt our business, as well as the global, national and local economy, resulting in a decline in customer demand, deterioration in the creditworthiness of our customers, increases in operating and capital costs, workforce shortages, delays in capital projects, disruption in supply chains, and disruption, weakness and volatility in capital markets. In addition, any of these factors could negatively impact our liquidity and limit our access to capital, among other implications; wildfires ignited, or allegedly ignited, by
Cyber and Technology Risk
cyberattacks on the operating systems that are used in the operation of our electric generation, transmission and distribution facilities and our natural gas distribution facilities, and cyberattacks on such systems of other energy companies with which we are interconnected, which could damage or destroy facilities or systems or disrupt operations for extended periods of time and result in the incurrence of liabilities and costs; cyberattacks on the administrative systems that are used in the administration of our business, including customer billing and customer service, accounting, communications, compliance and other administrative functions, and cyberattacks on such systems of our vendors and other companies with which we do business, which could result in the disruption of business operations, the release of private information and the incurrence of liabilities and costs; changes in costs that impede our ability to effectively implement new information technology systems or to operate and maintain current production technology; changes in technologies, possibly making some of the current technology we utilize obsolete or introducing new cyber security risks; insufficient technology skills, which could lead to the inability to develop, modify or maintain our information systems;
growth or decline of our customer base due to new uses for our services or decline in existing services, including, but not limited to, the effect of the trend toward distributed generation at customer sites; the potential effects of negative publicity regarding our business practices, whether true or not, which could hurt our reputation and result in litigation or a decline in our common stock price; changes in our strategic business plans, which could be affected by any or all of the foregoing, including the entry into new businesses and/or the exit from existing businesses and the extent of our business development efforts where potential future business is uncertain; wholesale and retail competition including alternative energy sources, growth in customer-owned power resource technologies that displace utility-supplied energy or that may be sold back to the utility, and alternative energy suppliers and delivery arrangements; entering into or growth of non-regulated activities may increase earnings volatility; the risk of municipalization or other forms of service territory reduction;
External Mandates Risk
changes in environmental laws, regulations, decisions and policies, including present and potential environmental remediation costs and our compliance with these matters; the potential effects of initiatives, legislation or administrative rulemaking at the federal, state or local levels, including possible effects on our generating resources, prohibitions or restrictions on new or existing services, or restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions to mitigate concerns over global climate changes; political pressures or regulatory practices that could constrain or place additional cost burdens on our distribution systems through accelerated adoption of distributed generation or electric-powered transportation or on our energy supply sources, such as campaigns to halt fossil fuel fired power generation and opposition to other thermal generation, wind turbines or hydroelectric facilities; failure to identify changes in legislation, taxation and regulatory issues that could be detrimental or beneficial to our overall business; policy and/or legislative changes in various regulated areas, including, but not limited to, environmental regulation, healthcare regulations and import/export regulations;
weather conditions, which affect both energy demand and electric generating capability, including the impact of precipitation and temperature on hydroelectric resources, the impact of wind patterns on wind-generated power, weather-sensitive customer demand, and similar impacts on supply and demand in the wholesale energy markets; our ability to obtain financing through the issuance of debt and/or equity securities, which could be affected by various factors including our credit ratings, interest rates, other capital market conditions and global economic conditions; changes in interest rates that affect borrowing costs, our ability to effectively hedge interest rates for anticipated debt issuances, variable interest rate borrowing and the extent to which we recover interest costs through retail rates collected from customers; changes in actuarial assumptions, interest rates and the actual return on plan assets for our pension and other postretirement benefit plans, which could affect future funding obligations, pension and other postretirement benefit expense and the related liabilities; the outcome of legal proceedings and other contingencies; economic conditions in our service areas, including the economy's effects on customer demand for utility services; economic conditions nationally may affect the valuation of our unregulated portfolio companies; declining energy demand related to customer energy efficiency, conservation measures and/or increased distributed generation; changes in the long-term climate and weather could materially affect, among other things, customer demand, the volume and timing of streamflows required for hydroelectric generation, costs of generation, transmission and distribution. Increased or new risks may arise from severe weather or natural disasters, including wildfires; industry and geographic concentrations which could increase our exposure to credit risks due to counterparties, suppliers and customers being similarly affected by changing conditions; deterioration in the creditworthiness of our customers;
Energy Commodity Risk
volatility and illiquidity in wholesale energy markets, including exchanges, the availability of willing buyers and sellers, changes in wholesale energy prices that could affect operating income, cash requirements to purchase electricity and natural gas, value received for wholesale sales, collateral required of us by individual counterparties and/or exchanges in wholesale energy transactions and credit risk to us from such transactions, and the market value of derivative assets and liabilities; default or nonperformance on the part of any parties from whom we purchase and/or sell capacity or energy; potential environmental regulations or lawsuits affecting our ability to utilize or resulting in the obsolescence of our power supply resources; explosions, fires, accidents, pipeline ruptures or other incidents that could limit energy supply to our facilities or our surrounding territory, which could result in a shortage of commodities in the market that could increase the cost of replacement commodities from other sources;
changes in laws, regulations, decisions and policies at the federal, state or local levels, which could materially impact both our electric and gas operations and costs of operations; and the ability to comply with the terms of the licenses and permits for our hydroelectric or thermal generating facilities at cost-effective levels.
For a further discussion of these factors and other important factors, please refer to our Form 10-K for 2020. The forward-looking statements contained in this news release speak only as of the date hereof. We undertake no obligation to update any forward-looking statement or statements to reflect events or circumstances that occur after the date on which such statement is made or to reflect the occurrence of unanticipated events. New risks, uncertainties and other 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 our business or the extent to which any such factor, or combination of factors, may cause actual results to differ materially from those contained in any forward-looking statement.
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Source: Avista Corporation