Xcel Raises Earnings Estimates, Confident on Supply

With the company's NRG Energy independent power producer unit leading the way, Xcel Energy Inc. is raising its earnings estimates for this year to $2.30 per share, up from previous estimates of $2.20 per share. Meanwhile, executives at the company last Tuesday sought to allay any possible concerns about Xcel's supply position heading into the summer months.

In a conference call with analysts, Xcel Chairm James J. Howard said the company now sees earnings per share in the first quarter of 2001 coming in at between $0.60 and $0.65. "My understanding is that the consensus estimate for the first quarter was about 49 cents, originally."

"Last year, we told you we anticipated 7-9% earnings per share growth," Howard said. "We're raising that number now to 10% for 2001." He further noted that the company's NRG Energy unit will go from contributing 20% to earnings in 2000 to a projected 25% in 2001.

Looking further out, Howard said that Xcel expects to have earnings per share in 2002 of between $2.40 and $2.50.

The Xcel chairman said the company will have solid top-line growth from its utility business, a "healthy contribution" from Xcel's energy trading business, and continued positive results from NRG Energy. The company also continues to anticipate savings from merger-related synergies. Xcel was formed in August 2000 by the merger of Northern States Power Co. and New Century Energies.

Switching gears, Howard also offered up a positive prognosis for the company's supply position going into the summer. "Let me just tell you that we have our supply locked up for the summer," Howard said. He further noted that Xcel does not anticipate being in the spot market, unless such a move would be economically advantageous for the company.

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