Sunday, February 1, 2015

AEP river ops financials UPDATED

American Electric Power is one of the few large towing companies on the Ohio River whose stock is publicly traded. Thus, it must make public disclosures of financial information that privately held companies do not.

AEP released its fourth-quarter and year-end financial results last week. Here is one paragraph from the news release:

Operating earnings from AEP River Operations for fourth-quarter 2014 and the year increased compared with the same periods in 2013 by $8 million and $37 million, respectively, primarily due to improvements in barge freight demand.

In the financial tables, we see that fourth-quarter earnings were $32 million, up from $24 million in the fourth quarter of 2013. For the full year, earnings were $49 million, up from $12 million.



Last week AEP executives had their quarterly conference call with securities analysts. AEP's river operation MEMCO came up. Here is a transcript of that conversation as provided by

Analyst: Was 2014 a good year or 2013 a poor year?

Brian Tierney, AEP chief financial officer: It's a combination of both. But 2014 was a good year primarily we're starting to see earnings capability from the tanker barges. You know we also had a good grain season that continues. But at the tanker -- our entry into the tanker barge business has been successful.

Analyst: But I think Nick's (AEP CEO Nick Akins) initial statement hit the nail on the head; '13 was not a good year and '14 was a good year.

Tierney: So, '15 may be split the difference. We like to see it continue like '14 was and as Nick said we're getting higher margins from some of the tanker barges that we have. And we anticipate that we'll continue to grow that part of the business where we get the higher margin.

Crew change for the M/V Yvonne Conway

I mentioned recently that I was down at the river to watch crew change for the Yvonne Conway. It was a freezing rain that morning. I had to be very careful where I walked and where I stood because of the ice. I overheard some Crounse employees say they had seen some accidents on the way to Huntington. I didn't ask, but I assume they came up from Maysville, as they were driving a van with the Crounse name on the door.

Here are three pictures that I shot one-handed while holding an umbrella in the other hand.

First, the boat itself. This was probably as close as I've been to this particular boat. I could be wrong, though.

Next, while Crouse was doing the crew change -- I think three got off and three got on -- a Coast Guard boat came down the river, after which it was loaded onto a trailer and trucked away.

I was on this boat or one like it many years ago. The Coast Guard took me along on a quick tour of what they look for on the Ohio between Huntington and the Big Sandy, and we went up the Big Sandy as far as the (now) Marathon refinery.

Finally, three people board the Yvonne Conway and, I assume, report to the captain, stash their stuff in their cabins and do whatever it is they do.