* Sees Q2 operational EPS about $1.22 * Cuts FY operational EPS view range by 50 cents * Shares down as much as 2 pct (Recasts; adds details, analyst comments, updates share movement)
BANGALORE, July 20 (Reuters) - Entergy Corp (ETR.N) forecast second-quarter operational profit below analysts’ expectations, hurt mainly by additional outages at its nuclear unit.
Planned refueling outage totaled 78 days in the second quarter, compared with 19 refueling outage days a year ago at Entergy Nuclear, the company said.
“This is a tough way to start second-quarter earnings for the power stocks, which we already thought were going to be rocky due to weak demand and lower power prices,” Credit Suisse analyst Dan Eggers said.
The energy company also lowered its full-year profit outlook, citing declining power prices and additional charges related to nuclear decommissioning trust funds.
Decommissioning funds are required by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to cover the anticipated costs of taking plants out of service and eventually razing them.
Credit Suisse’s Eggers reduced his 2009 earnings view on the company by 29 cents to $6.42 a share, saying the cut took into account the expected second-quarter results, but left his outlook for the second-half of the year unchanged.
“The only source of comfort is that some of Entergy’s problems — decommissioning trust and nuclear outages — are issues unique to its second quarter,” he said.
Though the analyst expects some pressure on the company’s stock following the outlook cut, he said the value proposition in its shares did not solely hinge on 2009 earnings.
“Entergy offers leverage to long-term commodity prices and U.S. carbon policy, has a fleet of geographically desirable nuclear plants, and growth at its regulated utilities, plus an attractive valuation,” the analyst said.
Entergy expects second-quarter as-reported earnings of about $1.13 a share and operational earnings of about $1.22 per share.
Analysts on average had expected earnings of $1.47 a share, before items, according to Reuters Estimates.
The company cut its full-year as-reported earnings outlook to a range of $6.00 to $6.60 per share, and operational earnings view to between $6.20 and $6.80 per share.
Previously, Entergy had said earnings could approach the lower end of a range of $6.56 to $7.16 per share on an as-reported basis and $6.70 to $7.30 per share on an operational basis.
Analysts were looking for earnings of $6.73 a share for 2009.
New Orleans, Louisiana-based Entergy owns and operates about 30,000 megawatt (MW) of generating capacity, markets energy commodities, and transmits and distributes power to 2.7 million customers in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas.
One MW powers about 500 homes in Texas.
Shares of Entergy, which is planning to spin off its five nuclear-power plants into the nation’s first standalone nuclear-generating company, were down 7 cents at $74.79 Monday afternoon on the New York Stock Exchange. (Reporting by Adveith Nair in Bangalore; Editing by Ratul Ray Chaudhuri and Aradhana Aravindan)