ALLETE, Inc. (ALE) last week reported net income of $33.5 million for its first quarter of 2014. That compares with $32.5 million for the comparable year-ago period.
Included in this year’s results was $1.4 million after-tax of acquisition costs related to the ALLETE Clean Energy acquisition.
Operating revenue was $296.5 million, up 12 percent from $263.8 million in 2013. Earnings per share for the first quarter of 2014 were diluted by six cents due to an increase in the amount of common shares outstanding.
Net income at ALLETE’s Regulated Operations segment, which includes Minnesota Power, Superior, Water, Light and Power and the company’s investment in the American Transmission Company, was $33.9 million, an increase of $1.8 million or 6 percent versus the first quarter of 2013.
Unseasonably cold weather increased electricity sales for the first quarter of 2014, which were 3 percent higher than the same period in 2013.
Operating and maintenance, depreciation and interest expenses were also higher in 2014 compared with a ALLETE’s Investments and Other segment, which includes BNI Coal, ALLETE Properties, ALLETE Clean Energy and miscellaneous corporate income and expense, recorded a net loss of $0.4 million during the period compared to net income of $400,000 a year ago. The net loss included the $1.4 million after-tax costs for ALLETE Clean Energy’s acquisition of wind energy facilities in January 2014. Quarterly results for BNI Coal and ALLETE Properties were similar to a year ago and ALLETE Clean Energy’s wind facilities were accretive to earnings.
“Strong operating performances at our businesses contributed to ALLETE’s first quarter earnings results,” ALLETE Chairman, President and CEO Al Hodnik said in the quarterly report. “We are comfortably on track to meet our full year earnings guidance of between $2.75 and $2.95 per share, excluding costs associated with the ALLETE Clean Energy acquisition.”
During a morning conference call, Hodnik expressed optimism about the proposed PolyMet copper/nickel/precious metals mine, noting that PolyMet will consume from 45-50 megawatts of power when processing operations begin.
He said Essar Steel Minnesota has revised its full-production date until 2016. When Essar’s iron ore processing operations go on-line, it will consume 110 megawatts through the city of Nashwauk, which is Minnesota Power’s customer.
“I’m reasonably confident they can achieve what they’re saying,” Hodnik said about Essar, which has encountered difficult in financing remaining construction of the project through debt.