Highlighting the company’s strategy to exit the merchant nuclear power industry and refocus on regulated utility operations and renewable energy, Entergy Corp. Wednesday (May 1) reported that first quarter earnings grew 91.7% from a year ago.
For the period ended March 31, the parent company of Entergy Arkansas on Wednesday reported first quarter net income of $255 million, or $1.32 per share, compared to earnings of $133 million, or 73 cents per share, in the same period of 2018. Revenues in the three-month period were flat at $2.61 billion.
Adjusting for one-time items, the New Orleans-based utility operator reported quarterly earnings of $158 million, or 82 cents per share. Wall Street had expected the regulated utility with operating subsidiaries in Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas and Mississippi to report first quarter earnings of 98 cents on revenues of nearly $2.8 billion, according to Thomson Reuters.
In the previous quarter, Entergy closed out the end of 2018 with a $66 million loss due to impairments related to the sale of its merchant nuclear and wholesale power fleet as it returns to the company’s roots as a pure-play regulated utility. During the quarter, Entergy agreed to sell the subsidiaries that owned the company’s Indian Point nuclear facility in Buchanan, New York.
“We had a productive start to 2019. While weather was a headwind, we remain firmly on track to achieve our full-year financial guidance, as well as our longer-term outlooks,” said Entergy Chairman and CEO Leo Denault. “With our announcement of a sale of Indian Point, we now have definitive agreements in place to sell all of our merchant nuclear assets.”
In the quarterly earnings report, the utility also noted Entergy Arkansas’ announcement in March to partner with NextEra Energy Resources LLC to build a 100-megawatt solar energy facility in White County near Searcy. Pending approval by the Arkansas Public Service Commission, it would be the largest utility-owned solar facility in the state and come on line by 2021.
Among other things, the company said Entergy Arkansas and Entergy Texas each issued requests for proposals for 200 megawatts of solar resources. Just two weeks ago, the company also released its ambitious 54-page climate strategy to lower the company’s carbon footprint by 50% by 2030 and assume a leadership role in the development of cleaner fuel choices.
Even after the sale of the Indian Point facility and the decision to exit the merchant nuclear market, Entergy still owns and operates seven other company-owned nuclear reactors, including Arkansas Nuclear One in Russellville, Ark.
Over the past four years, Entergy has announced the shutdown and decommissioning of Vermont Yankee nuclear plants, as well as the March 2017 sale of the James A. Fitzpatrick Nuclear power plant to Exelon Generation in upstate New York.
Entergy also announced the sale of the Rhode Island State Energy Center natural gas-fired power plant, and the planned shutdowns of the Pilgrim nuclear plant in Massachusetts and the Palisades nuclear plant in Michigan as part of the company’s departure from the merchant power business.
For 2019, Energy reaffirmed its yearly earnings guidance range of $5.10 to $5.50 per share. In early trading Wednesday, Entergy shares touched a 52-week high of $96.94 as shares rose 2%, or $1.94 on the New York Stock Exchange. The company’s shares have traded in the range of $75.45 and $96.94 over the past year.