Article Excerpt

TRANSALTA CORP. $21.30 (Toronto symbol TA; Shares outstanding: 197.9 million; Market cap: $4.2 billion; SI Rating: Average) reported a 63.6% drop in its earnings during the three months ended March 31, 2009. The utility earned $36 million, or $0.18 a share, compared to $99 million, or $0.50 a share, a year earlier. Analysts were expecting $0.22. These figures exclude several non-recurring items, particularly a $65-million writedown of TransAlta’s Mexican power plants in the year-earlier quarter. (TransAlta sold all of its Mexican operations in the fourth quarter of 2008.) Revenue fell 5.9%, to $756 million from $803 million. TransAlta had to shut down some of its electrical-power plants for maintenance during the latest quarter, and this was the main reason for the lower revenue and earnings. Overall, TransAlta’s plants operated at 86.4% of capacity, compared to 91.8% a year earlier. The company continues to expand its wind-power business, which accounts for around 3% of its generating capacity. Recently, it announced plans to build a..

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