CMS Energy Earnings Call Nuggets: No Block Equities and Accelerated Spending

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

No Block Equities

Kevin Cole – Credit Suisse: Tom, just to make sure I got your comment clear on the equity. So, you are maintaining your no block equities through the planning period, but may opportunistically increase your DRIP from $30 million to $40 million or something small like that?

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Thomas J. Webb – EVP and CFO of CMS Energy Corporation and Consumers Energy Company: That’s pretty close and let me just add a little clarity to that. You remember our capital investment went up $750 million for the new plant, but yet to be improved. We’re assuming that does get approved, so we’re working at our base capital investment to see what things could push out a little bit or what things could we do smarter and just bring them down a little bit. To the extent we can get in the low end of that range that John gave you, we probably don’t need to make any changes whatsoever. To the extent that we stay up around $7 million or maybe a little bit more, we think we’re in pretty good shape. But what we would look at is maybe take the continuous equity program up a notch and we haven’t decided to do that. And let me remind you what those numbers are. We have a DRIP program that’s about $15 million a year and a continuous equity program that’s about $15 million for that total of $30 million Kevin that you mentioned. So, our goal is to try to stay in that arena. But we realize this is a pretty accretive investment that we are doing, and we might want to tip it up just a little bit if we need to cover that new higher level of investment. But you can see our primary emphasis is to figure out, how can we do it without putting people in a situation where we have the potential for dilution. We don’t want to dilute anything here. So, thanks for the question. We haven’t made our final decisions on that, but as of today I would tell you there’s no plan for any new block equity issuances, the NOLs are good enough along with our retained earnings to put us in good shape, but we’ll be evaluating just how far we can go in that capital investment as to whether we need just a tiny bit more of equity maybe through our continued – this equity program.

Kevin Cole – Credit Suisse: And one last question, if I could. So, I guess on the Capital Investment tracker, I guess, given the ALJ’s recent testimony stating that the Commission lacks the legal authority to grant such tracker. What is your updated view on the issue, and generally do you know what the root of the ALJ’s issues really are given that seems to me that the Commission was clearly –the authority was clearly affirmed by the Court of Appeals early last year and – this tracking mechanism is good for all stakeholders?