Entergy Corp. (ETR) projected disappointing first-quarter earnings and lowered its profit guidance for the year, pointing to unfavorable weather, along with updated pension assumptions and lower market energy prices.
For the first quarter, the merchant power and utility company projected operating earnings of about 43 cents a share, versus the estimate of $1.14 from analysts polled by Thomson Reuters. The period includes charges for impairments at the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant and expenses tied to the proposed spinoff and merger of its electric transmission business.
At Entergy's utility segment, it expects a quarter-over-quarter decrease in operational earnings on higher income tax expense and lower net revenue tied to unfavorable weather.
Meanwhile at the wholesale commodities segment, earnings were below the prior-year period largely due to lower net revenue on lower pricing associated with the nuclear fleet.
Entergy now expects earnings of $4.85 to $5.65 a share for the year, down from its November view of $5.40 to $6.20, and charges of $1.30 a share.
The company in December unveiled plans to spin off its electric transmission business and merge the operation with ITC Holdings Corp. (ITC). The deal is expected to allow Entergy to reduce its debt and focus on its utilities in four states and its fleet of nuclear power plants, which are expected to require substantial investments over the next several years. The company remains in legal disputes over its Vermont and New York nuclear power plants' operations.
In January, Entergy reported its fourth-quarter earnings fell 31% due to a prior-year gain and as the company reported lower revenue as milder weather reduced electricity demand.
Shares were inactive premarket and closed Wednesday at $66.27. The stock is off 9.3% this year.
-By Lauren Pollock, Dow Jones Newswires; 212-416-2356; firstname.lastname@example.org