CenterPoint Energy Earnings Call Insights: Planning Process and Weather Mechanics

CenterPoint Energy Inc (NYSE:CNP) recently reported its fourth quarter earnings and discussed the following topics in its earnings conference call.

Planning Process

Carl Kirst – BMO Capital: First question and I don’t want to read too much into this, but just notice that in the guidance for 2013, you guys are putting out an $0.08 spread versus, I think what we started with this time last year with maybe a wider $0.12 spread. Again I hesitate to read into that, but I didn’t know, if you there was any implication of either more certitude or less variability around your planning process, and I don’t if there was any color on that?

David M. McClanahan – President and CEO: Carl, I wouldn’t read much into that. As you might recall last year, when we started the year, we had a much wider – we had a natural gas price that was much more influx. We were assuming something in our (prion) sort of less than $4 and it was $2.50 at the time we had our call. So, I think, that’s part of it, but generally I wouldn’t read much at all into that the entire spread.

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Carl Kirst – BMO Capital: Just the second question here and it really speaks to the gas utility with the earnings power. I think historically, we had been thinking of the normalized earnings power of the gas utility in the maybe 200 million to 220 million range and so, here you guys had a really nice year considering that there was $25 million of still weather impact. So, I guess, the question is, do you think the great expense management that you had for this year, is that sustainable meaning that have we in effect listed the new normal earnings power for this segment up in the 250 million range?