Earnings don't matter -- unless investors want them to matter. Looking today at independent power producer Calpine
Revenue for the second quarter was basically flat (at $2.2 billion), as was the amount of power the company generated for the period. While it did see higher average realized spark spreads, the capacity utilization was lower. Calpine faced a negative one-two punch -- mild weather in April and May reduced power demand, and unplanned outages hurt performance when power was in demand.
As a result, the company posted a net loss of more than $298 million, much higher than the year-ago loss of about $29 million. On a per-share basis, the loss came in at $0.66, though $0.11 of that was chalked up to "non-recurring" items. Those numbers clearly do not compare favorably with the mean analyst estimates of $2.46 billion in revenue and a $0.29-per-share loss.
Now, why did I suggest at the beginning of this piece that earnings "don't matter"? Well, that's because the main name of the game for Calpine is still debt reduction and liquidity production. With previously announced asset sales, Calpine has about $1.2 billion in net proceeds coming onto the books. Looking ahead, management still seems positive about its chances of achieving its asset sale and debt reduction goals for the year.
That said, the companies and investors got an unwelcome piece of news from Canada. The Supreme Court of Nova Scotia ruled that the company had to provide enough cash from the Saltend sale to its Canadian subsidiary to repay some bonds issued by the Calpine Canada Energy Finance II ULC. Personally, I'd characterize this action as more of an inconvenience than a crisis.
On a more positive note, power prices do seem to be on the way up across the country. This summer has proven to be a warm one and the supply-demand balance for power has gotten a bit precarious in markets like California from time to time. This is the kind of good news that Calpine definitely needs -- Calpine has abundant power capacity, and higher utilization and pricing would certainly aid in righting this ship.
I'm certainly not trying to suggest this was a good quarter. It wasn't. What I would say, though, is that if you were already on board these shares, I don't see what about this quarterly report would chase you away. Calpine is a risky, speculative turnaround, and most turnarounds experience bumps and setbacks on their road back to respectability.
Just to be clear, Calpine is absolutely nothing like Entergy
For more on power companies:
- Can Entergy Power a Portfolio?
- Huaneng Power Browns Out
- Rekindling Interest in Dynegy
- Calpine Does It Again
Fool contributor Stephen Simpson has no financial interest in any stocks mentioned (that means he's neither long nor short the shares).