Ask (or, in my case, complain) and you just may receive. In my two prior missives on troubled independent energy producer Calpine
Well, lookie what we have here. Early Wednesday morning, Calpine announced that it was launching a strategic initiative that incorporates asset sales, accelerated debt repayment, and operating efficiency improvements.
In addition to proceeding with the sale of the UK-based Saltend plant (which we all knew about already), management indicated that it was targeting as many as eight additional plants for sale. What's more, management is also exploring the sale of the company's oil and gas assets -- a small business, yes, but still a marketable asset that doesn't really fit the overall strategic picture.
Along with those sales, Calpine management announced its intention to repurchase $3 billion or more of debt before year-end. That's an ambitious goal -- especially for a company with a recent history of falling short of its financing and liquidity targets -- but it should be achievable if the company can negotiate fair prices on its asset sales.
Along with asset sales and debt reduction, Calpine is targeting various operating efficiency improvements as well. In a move that some will see as long overdue, the company will look to mothball plants that are not presently producing positive cash flow (or likely to do so in the near future). Additionally, the elimination of long-term maintenance agreements, reduction of off-peak losses, and implementation of technologies to improve fuel efficiency should all help boost operating results.
No doubt that Calpine management has set heady targets for itself -- a $3 billion incremental debt reduction, a $275 million reduction in interest expense, and a $200 million reduction in operating expenses. But in my opinion, that's exactly what's needed for the company to make it through this crisis and stick around as a viable entity.
Certainly the power business has promise. BerkshireHathaway's
In any case, a quick look at the stock of a company like AES
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Fool contributor Stephen Simpson has no financial interest in any stocks mentioned (that means he's neither long nor short the shares).