Portland General Electric Company (NYSE:POR) Q4 2019 Earnings Conference Call - Final Transcript
Feb 14, 2020 • 11:00 am ET
Good morning, everyone, and welcome to the Portland General Electric Company's Fourth Quarter 2019 Earnings Results Conference Call. Today is Friday, February 14, 2020. [Operator Instructions]
For opening remarks, I would like to turn the conference call over to Portland General Electric's, Director of Investor Relations and Treasury, Chris Liddle. Please go ahead, sir.
Thank you, Jonathan. Good morning, everyone. I'm pleased you're able to join us today. Before we begin this morning, I'd like to remind you that we have prepared a presentation to supplement our discussion, which will be referencing throughout the call. The slides are available on our website at investors.portlandgeneral.com.
Referring to Slide 2, I'd like to remind everyone that some of our remarks this morning will constitute forward-looking statements. We caution you that such statements involve inherent risks and uncertainties and actual results may differ materially from our expectations. For a description of some of the factors that could cause actual results to differ materially, please refer to our earnings press release and our most recent periodic reports on Form 10-K and Form 10-Q, which are also available on our website. Leading our discussions today are Maria Pope, President and CEO; and Jim Lobdell, Senior Vice President of Finance, CFO and Treasurer. Following our prepared remarks, we will open the line for your questions.
Now it's my pleasure to turn the call over to Maria.
Thank you, Chris, and good morning everyone. Welcome to Portland General Electric's 2019 earnings call. Today, I'll share an overview of our financial results. Earnings growth expectations, a regulatory update on our integrated resource plan and a summary of what we're seeing in the Oregon legislative session. Jim will provide more detail on our financial results, our outlook on 2020, and then we will address your questions.
Turning to Slide 4. In 2019, we recorded net income of $214 million or $2.39 per diluted share, compared with net income of $212 million or $2.37 in 2018. We finished the fourth quarter, earning $0.68 per diluted share, compared with $0.55 in the fourth quarter of 2018. The increase in earnings per share was driven by improved gross margin due to strong industrial demand and higher earnings from ongoing investments in our system. The higher gross margin was partially offset by higher operating expenses, including vegetation management and wildfire mitigation, which Jim will later describe.
Looking ahead, we are initiating 2020 full-year earnings guidance of $2.50 to $2.65 per diluted share. To provide more clarity on future growth, we're moving the time period associated with our long-term earnings guidance. We are now guiding to 4% to 6% earnings growth on average. In some years, as we experienced in 2019, our growth maybe below this range or as indicated by our 2020 guidance. We may have growth above the range.
On Slide 5, a few significant accomplishments this year include the ongoing reduction of carbon emissions in our power supply portfolio, with the construction of the Wheatridge renewable energy Boardman coal plant for closure.