HEI's earnings power down 40%


POSTED: Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Hawaiian Electric Industries Inc., citing the impact of the global financial and economic crisis, said its earnings plunged 40 percent in the first quarter as electric sales declined and subsidiary American Savings Bank increased its provision for loan losses.

The state's largest electric utility provider posted net income of $20.4 million, or 23 cents a share, compared with $34 million, or 41 cents a share, a year earlier.

Revenue decreased 25.5 percent to $543.8 million from $729.6 million.




By the numbers


        First-quarter net

        $20.4 million

Year-earlier net
$34 million


HEI President and Chief Executive Connie Lau said cooler, less humid weather, together with higher expected utility operating and maintenance costs, also led to the reduction in earnings from the year-earlier quarter.

“;To help offset these negative impacts, both our utility and bank are continuing to aggressively pursue initiatives which have improved operating and financial performance over the last year and positioned us to weather this downturn and to grow as economic conditions improve,”; Lau said.

HEI, which released its financial results shortly before midnight Monday, fell short of analysts' consensus estimates of 25 cents a share.

However, the results beat the estimate by a penny of analyst Jim Bellessa of Great Falls, Mont.-based D. A. Davidson & Co.

“;The quarter was weak due to a number of factors,”; he said.

“;Recession was one of the factors, weather was another factor and the cost of maintaining their system was another factor. And related to the recession, you have this (loan-loss) provision.”;

The company's electric utility net income fell 42.5 percent to $14.1 million from $24.6 million primarily due to lower electric sales and higher operations and maintenance expenses. In addition, a 7.4 percent decline in kilowatt-hour sales reduced the utility net income by about $9 million, HEI said.

“;No utility that I'm following is reporting down earnings like that,”; Bellessa said.

Revenue for the utility dropped 26.2 percent to $459.3 million from $622.3 million.

American Savings' net income decreased 25.3 percent to $10.9 million from $14.6 million while revenue slipped 1.9 percent to $67.2 million from $68.5 million. However, net interest income, which makes up part of the revenue, edged up 0.8 percent to $50.9 million despite $1.7 billion fewer assets than the year-earlier quarter due to the bank's restructuring in June 2008. The net interest margin, which reflects the difference between what the bank pays depositors and what it brings in from loans, improved to 4.11 percent from 3.13 percent a year ago.

The bank set aside $8.3 million for potential loan losses compared with a $6.3 million provision for the fourth quarter of 2008 and $900,000 in the year-earlier quarter. HEI said last quarter's loan-loss provision reflected the reclassification of a single commercial customer that accounted for 40 percent of the provision. Higher delinquencies in residential lot loans accounted for 20 percent of the provision, the company said.

Separately, HEI maintained its dividend at 31 cents a share payable June 10 to shareholders of record at the close of business on May 21. The ex-dividend date is May 19, meaning that shareholders must own the stock prior to that date to receive the dividend.