Hawaiian Electric Industries Inc.’s net income soared 93% in the first quarter as its utility slashed operations and maintenance expenses and subsidiary American Savings Bank benefited from the release of $8.4 million from its loan-loss reserve.
The parent company of the state’s largest utility and the state’s third-largest bank reported today earnings of $64.4 million, or 59 cents a share, to crush analysts’ estimate of 36 cents. In the year-earlier quarter, HEI earned $33.4 million, or 31 cents a share. Revenue fell 5.1% to $642.9 million from $677.2 million. Analysts were looking for revenue of $637.3 million.
“Both our utility and bank reported stronger earnings for the first quarter of 2021 as Hawaii’s economy began to recover,” HEI President and CEO Connie Lau said in a statement.
However, HEI said its utility has incurred $22 million of COVID-related costs, primarily due to bad debt expense, that it has accrued in a deferred regulatory asset account.
“We will continue deferring COVID-related costs through June 30,” Chief Financial Officer Greg Hazelton said on the company’s earnings conference call. “The moratorium on customer disconnections is in place through May 31 … and we will continue to work with customers on extended payment plans and assisting with other bill assistance alternatives. We plan to file a separate application (with the state Public Utilities Commission) to seek recovery of cost once actual costs are known. We will also be filing a request for approval to continue deferring COVID-related costs beyond June 30.”
UP EARNINGS ARROW
>> $66.4 million
>> $33.4 million
HEI’s net income for its utility segment, which covers Oahu, Maui County and Hawaii island, jumped 81.4% in the quarter to $43.4 million from $23.9 million in the year-earlier period while revenue decreased 5.5% to $564.9 million from $597.4 million. The utility earnings reflect $10 million in lower operations and maintenance expenses from the year-earlier period from cost-reduction efforts and delays on the timing of generation overhauls, coupled with a $5 million higher revenue increase from the utility’s annual rate adjustment mechanism.
“Our utility’s strong performance reflects continued savings from the cost management program we began last year, with the benefits to be reflected in customer rates later this year,” Lau said in a statement. “We’re also focused on collaborating with stakeholders to ensure all interests are aligned as we continue the transition to performance-based regulation (PBR) and working together to bring projects from our renewable procurements to fruition.”
Lau said on the conference call that the company’s transition to the new PBR framework and a clean energy future “have been and continue to be our major focus.”
She said the utility has been successful in implementing efficiencies and achieving savings to deliver on its management audit savings commitment and the customer dividend.
“We’ll start returning these savings to customers through the annual revenue adjustment … when PBR goes into effect June 1,” Lau said.
American Savings reported separately on April 30 that its earnings jumped nearly 88% in the first quarter as the company posted record deposit growth and released $8.4 million from its loan-loss reserve amid an improving economy. Net income rose to $29.6 million from $15.8 million in the year-earlier period when American Savings put into its reserve $10.4 million for potential loan losses.
Deposits jumped 21.3% to $7.75 billion from the year-earlier period and increased 4.9% from the December quarter.
“Our bank’s strong first-quarter results reflect good execution in an environment that remains challenging for bank profitability,” Lau said in a statement. “Strong residential mortgage production and new ASB CARES, or paycheck protection program, loans are bright spots, while record deposit growth continues to outpace lending opportunities in this early stage of Hawaii’s economic recovery. Our bank’s results benefited from a reduction of reserves for credit losses, as certain commercial credits earned upgrades and our exposure to riskier unsecured consumer loans declined.”
On Thursday, American Savings announced that President and CEO Rich Wacker, 58, was stepping down today and being replaced by Executive Vice President of Operations Ann Teranishi, 46. Wacker said the timing wasn’t his decision but was part of the board of director’s succession plan and said he was confident that Teranishi would be successful.
HEI also announced Thursday that it was maintaining its quarterly dividend at 34 cents a share. It will be payable June 10 to shareholders of record at the close of business on May 20.
Shares of HEI rose $1.72, or 4%, to $45.19 today after the earnings were announced. Based on today’s closing price, HEI’s annualized dividend yield would be 3.01%.