Allegheny posts record earnings of 91 cents a share

Profit climbs 17% above 2000 quarter

revenue surges 109%

April 24, 2001|By Dan Thanh Dang | Dan Thanh Dang,SUN STAFF

Allegheny Energy Inc. yesterday reported record first-quarter earnings before charges of $100.5 million, or 91 cents per share.

The earnings in the three months that ended March 31 increased 17 percent from those of last year's first quarter, a gain resulting largely from higher sales and expansion of the Hagerstown-based energy company's unregulated businesses into the national energy market.

The earnings before the cumulative effect of an accounting change compared with $86.4 million, or 78 cents per share, reported for the first quarter of 2000. Including the accounting change, Allegheny's 2001 first-quarter net income was $69.4 million, or 63 cents per share.

Revenue in the first quarter shot up 109 percent, to $1.8 billion.

Yesterday, Allegheny Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Alan J. Noia said first-quarter numbers will help the company meet its 2001 earnings goal of $3.80 to $4.10 a share.

"The 17 percent increase is only part of our positive story," Noia said. "Allegheny Energy's unregulated earnings grew by 80 percent, compared to the first quarter of 2000, reflecting our diligence in executing a high-level growth strategy that continues to provide positive results for shareholders."

"On the surface, it appears to be yet another good earnings report from Allegheny," said David Burks, a utilities analyst with J. J. B. Hilliard, W. L. Lyons Inc. in Louisville, Ky. "This company has certainly made a number of good strategic moves over the years and the first-quarter numbers indicate further earnings momentum."

"Also, the fact that they've giving that wide range in further earnings - $3.80 to $4.10 - when the consensus from analysts is about $3.80 to $3.81 per share for the year, well, that's certainly an encouraging sign," Burks added.

Company officials said Allegheny has pursued a number of ventures in its unregulated businesses to increase future earnings and shareholder value.

They include the acquisition of an energy commodity marketing and trading unit; a long-term, fixed rate power contract to sell power to California; the purchase of 83 megawatts of coal-fired generating capacity in Pennsylvania; and the expected acquisition of 1,710 megawatts of generating capacity in the Midwest next month.

"We continue to advance our strategy to grow as a national energy merchant, and our portfolio of strong energy businesses are focused intently on providing shareholder value today and into the future," Noia said.

Shares of Allegheny rose 15 cents to $47.30 yesterday.

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