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Ameren Corporation’s AEE first-quarter 2021 earnings of 91 cents per share from continuing operations exceeded the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 79 cents by 15.2%. Moreover, the reported figure rose 54.2% from 59 cents reported in the year-ago quarter.
The year-over-year bottom-line improvement can be attributed to new Ameren Missouri electric service rates, which became effective Apr 1, 2020, and higher Ameren Missouri electric retail sales driven by near-normal winter temperatures.
Total revenues came in at $1,566 million in the reported quarter, which improved 8.8% year over year due to higher electric as well as natural gas revenues. Revenues also beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $1,538 million by 1.8%.
Ameren Corporation Price, Consensus and EPS Surprise
Ameren Corporation price-consensus-eps-surprise-chart | Ameren Corporation Quote
Highlights of the Release
Ameren’s total electricity sales volumes declined 5.4% to 17,655 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) compared with 18,671 million kWh witnessed in the year-ago quarter. However, gas volumes rose 6.9% to 77 million dekatherms.
Total operating expenses were $1,250 million, up 4.3% year over year.
The company’s interest expenses in the first quarter were $100 million compared with the prior-year quarter’s $93 million.
The Ameren Missouri segment reported operating income of $47 million in first-quarter 2021 against loss of $10 million recorded in the prior-year quarter. This year-over-year upside reflects new electric service rates effective Apr 1, 2020 and higher electric retail sales driven by near-normal winter temperatures in first-quarter 2021.
The Ameren Illinois Electric Distribution segment reported operating income of $46 million for first-quarter 2021 compared with $37 million registered in first-quarter 2020. The year-over-year improvement can be attributed to increased earnings on infrastructure investments and a higher allowed return on equity due to a higher projected average 30-year U.S. Treasury bond yield in 2021 compared to 2020.
The Ameren Illinois Natural Gas segment reported operating income of $75 million for first-quarter 2021 compared with $55 million generated in the prior-year quarter. This year-over-year improvement reflects a rate design change and higher delivery service rates that incorporated increased investments in infrastructure, both effective in late January 2021.
The Ameren Transmission segment reported operating income of $47 million in first-quarter 2021, flat year over year. The neutral outcome can be attributed to increased earnings on infrastructure investments, which was offset by the impact of a 2021 FERC order addressing the historical recovery of materials and supplies inventories.
Ameren reported cash and cash equivalents of $6 million as of Mar 31, 2021, compared with $139 million registered at 2020-end.
As of Mar 31, 2021, long-term debt totaled $11,527 million compared with $$11,078 million as of Dec 31, 2020.
During the first quarter, cash outflow from operating activities amounted to $35 million against cash worth $290 million generated in the prior-year quarter.
Ameren has reissued its 2021 guidance. The company continues to expect its earnings in the range of $3.65-$3.85 per share. Currently, the Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2021 earnings is pegged at $3.75 per share, in line with the midpoint of the guidance.
Ameren currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.
Other Utility Releases
WEC Energy Group WEC reported first-quarter 2021 earnings per share of $1.61, which beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $1.47 by 9.5%.
FirstEnergy Corporation FE recorded first-quarter 2021 operating earnings of 69 cents per share, which beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 68 cents by 1.5%.
American Electric Power Co., Inc. AEP reported first-quarter 2021 adjusted earnings per share of $1.15, which missed the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $1.23 by 6.5%.
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