Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Power firms lack spark, but stand by forecasts (AYE; CRG; DUK; FE; PGN: SE; SRE)

There was a reason we titled our April 13 post "Utilities: Getting Ready for the Up Move that Follows the Next Down Move".
Here's a story from 24/7 Wall Street:

May 4
Another Utility Misses Estimates (ETR, D, AEP, CHK)

Entergy Corporation(NYSE:ETR) joined the ranks of electricity generators that haven’t been able to reach consensus estimates for the first quarter of 2009.The company’s results resemble the earlier reports from Dominion Resources, Inc. (NYSE:D) and American Electric Power Co. Inc. (NYSE:AEP), where lower demand, especially from industrial customers, really hurt sales....MORE
Here's the headline story from MarketWatch:
Duke Energy said net income fell 26% as the largest of a fleet of power producers including Spectra Energy, Progress Energy and Constellation Energy weighed in with mostly lower results or even losses on Tuesday.

Hamstrung by sharply lower industrial activity over the winter, power company earnings have lost much of their spark from the economic slowdown, but the sector managed to mostly stay in the black.
While business remains slow, most of the companies at least stuck to their already reduced profit targets for the year and some even issues some upbeat comments....MORE
Rather than being treated as safe havens, the group is now seen as economically sensitive.
We aren't out of the woods yet. A few observant commentators are now positing that rather than the much discussed U or V or L shaped recovery, the economy may trace out a:
In which case the stock market should probably do the same, with an appropriate lead time, of course. If I am reading the tea leaves correctly, junk utilities will play the same role in the next leg up that junk banks played in this leg.

A thought that comes to mind is that the apparent ease of vision may simply be because I'm standing on the middle peak. Yikes!