CPFL Energia SA (CPL) Q1 2023 Earnings Call Transcript

CPFL Energia SA (NYSE:CPL) Q1 2023 Earnings Conference Call May 12, 2023 10:00 AM ET

Company Participants

Carlos Cyrino – Former Director, IR

Gustavo Estrella – CEO

Yuehui Pan – CFO & IR Officer

Conference Call Participants

Andre Sampaio – Santander Investment Securities

Carlos Cyrino

Welcome to our presentation of the CPFL Energy group. We’re going to talk about the results of the First Quarter of ’23. I’m Carlos Cyrino, Investor Relations Director, and I will be the master of ceremony as we have Gustavo Estrella, our CEO; Mr. Pan, our CFO; and other executives of the company.

All the presentation will be carried out in Portuguese with interpretation for English. All you have to do is click on the Interpretation button that shows up on the bottom part of the ruler. If you want to see the presentation in English, the presentation is on CPFL Energy site.

At the end of the presentation of the company, we will start the session of questions and answers. [Operator Instructions]. Please remember this event is being recorded. I’m now going to give the floor to Gustavo Estrella to start the presentation of results.

Gustavo Estrella

Cyrino, thank you very much. Good morning, everyone, all the investors, we’re going to start our call of results of the first quarter of 2023. I’m going to start here with some highlights. The first one is robust growth of our EBITDA. We’ve closed with 33.6%, BRL3.53 million and also net profit, BRL1.651 million. Debt is BRL22.8 billion, and our leverage has reached 1.7x, the net debt over the income.

We have a payment here of dividends, the first installment of BRL1 billion for May 16th, this is a policy already approved of BRL2.10. This is the first installment which is going to be paid next week.

As for our business, I think some highlights are the tariff revision, so we have a process which is ongoing of RGE now for July — June, sorry, ’23, and it will be a preliminary net RAB of BRL11.2 billion, and this reflects the program a robust program of investments that CPFL has done in all our subsidiaries, especially in RGE with a lot of complexity when we compare to other areas of the state of Sao Paulo.

So we have expressive growth here, BRL11.2 billion. A similar process is taking place on Sao Paulista, CPFL also a base of BRL10 million in nominal value. We’ve doubled the amount from 2018 to ’23. We have an impact of the inflation growth, but it also reflects robust investment that we’ve carried out in CPFL Paulista in the last 5 years. Also in the tariff revision process, we have a positive impact of 4.89% with an increase of 0.67% in Parcel B. An important highlight in the Best in Management Award with recognition in Piratininga, Paulista, RGE and Santa Cruz.

So this reflects a lot of what we’ve been doing and the way that we operate our businesses. And lastly, we have Alesta which is our fintech where we expand the services to RGE.

Alesta loans for delayed energy payments. We offer services in Piratininga, Santa Cruz, Paulista and now we complete this with RGE, all our distributors now have this alternative of financing and payment of delayed bills. This is a positive expectation to reduce bills that have not been yet paid that are in default.

So here, we have a load in the concession area which is more or less flat, a drop of 0.03% and the sales with a drop of 1.2%. When we have a positive highlight here which comes from the residential sector, a growth of 0.7%. Even though we have heavy impacts of distributed generation with an impact of 4.4% and also temperature 2.9%. So I think that reflects — reflex on the residential market has been positively impacted by the impact of revenue that we’ve had ever since the beginning of last year, which has brought the strong effects, even so a positive growth.

The expectation for the end of the year is that this will lose a bit of strength. So the residential market will probably be more affected in the bottom line with this effect and temperature as well. As for industry, we have a drop here of 1%. Manufacturing has had difficulty in recovering. We see this in all segments. We do have some outliers in food. This continues having a positive growth over 2%, but we see other segments like metallurgy, textile with a drop in consumption. And so the manufacturing side is below the previous year. The commercial side is also very much affected and also by temperature more or less flat compared to the previous year.

Now let’s move towards the next slide. Here, we’re going to PDD, we have a drop here in absolute numbers, a big drop due to the drop of our gross revenue because of the variation of the ICMS tax when we see the percentage of default, we have a small drop, 0.9%. So we have certain stability in default. We went to 1.3% in the pandemic, back to 0.9%. So we’ve found resistance to be able to reduce these percentages below this value to maintain this level. We’ve made a big effort and we continue having power cuts, over 200,000 power cuts per month. So this is a huge effort, I would say that default is stable, but it’s still inspires care due to the moment that we’re going through, and we knew that economy recovery and more revenue is what most brings positive impact in this area.

Now let’s go to the next slide about losses. We have come — we’re in — a decrease here of total losses, also a huge effort to reduce these losses. We still have a challenge of regulatory loss. We’ve got very close from 8.24% to 8.18%. It still is a challenge. We are running after this. We have Santa Cruz and in the others, very close RGE, CPFL Paulista. And our biggest challenge, the company with a less loss in Brazil, and it’s little ironic. We have — we are doing everything to reduce the total loss even more.

What about generation. We have a hydrology scenario, which is very favorable. We can see the variation of the PLD here, which is the BRL69. This is the expectation, especially during this year of 2023, perhaps even 2024. But the hydrology is very good. The market with a low consumption or neutral in relation to the last year and an over offer, and this brings us the scenario that we will have for the next months.

The GSF seasonality, here we closed this in one — in the first quarter of 2023, we will have GSF up to the end of the year. Here, we have the seasonal effect. But once more, we will have this, which is secondary energy and possibly, we will have [indiscernible].

As for wind availability, we have more favorable impact compared to 2022. The performance is still below P50 growth of 16% in relation to 2022, the availability even though we’ve had some maintenance and program maintenance, even so we’re able to maintain our availability above 95%, which is a very positive indicator for a segment of wind generation.

Now I’m going to give the floor to Mr. Pan, who is going to give us some financial results.

Yuehui Pan

Good morning. Thank you, Gustavo. Going to the slide of results. In the first quarter, we reached an EBITDA of BRL3.5 billion, hike of 33% continue with the good performance. The segment has an EBITDA of BRL2.3 billion raise of almost 27%. The largest gain came from the tariff market, BRL321 million, especially due to the IGP-M, which has been which has been passed over on the tariffs of ’22. We also have had a positive impact in Paulista, CPFL due to the final report of the BRR of BRL136 million in the concession active finance line.

This update had an increase of BRL56 million even with a lower IPCA due to the highest base when we compare this quarter with the same period last year. Another important effect was of other revenues that had a gain of BRL30 million, while the PDD was lower, BRL20 million as a negative effect. We had the PMSO with the PrevidĂȘncia Privada entity with a hike of BRL75 million, also affected by inflation which affected the salaries, among other expenses last year.

In generation, the EBITDA reached BRL937 million, an increase of 39%. The main factor was the consolidation of Enercan, which elevated the EBITDA BRL142 million. The tariffs — this helped — the hike of the tariffs helped with BRL83 million besides the positive impact of BRL65 million of wind generation because we had stronger winds. On the other side, we had an increase of BRL14 million in expenses with PMSO in different sectors and other effects added up to a loss of BRL12 million.

Let’s move to the next slide. Let’s go to transmission. We had an EBITDA of BRL229 million with a relative variation of BRL76 million, a highlight to the expense reduction with personnel of BRL57 million. Other transmission projects had a positive impact of BRL15 million.

The segment of trading, service and others had an EBITDA of BRL38 million, an improvement of BRL44 million, especially due to the recovery of the margin of CPFL Brazil, a gain of BRL62 million. The segment of services had a reduction of BRL12 million during this period. Other effects added a loss of BRL6 million.

On the next slide, you can see the performance of the net profit, which was BRL1.6 billion, an increase of 42% in relation to the first quarter of ’22. In the financial results, we had, it was worse, BRL119 million, especially due to expenses with a net debt with an increase of BRL143 million, explained by the CDI, which is still elevated and due to the higher debt. Reduction in fines, BRL38 million due to the reduction of the IPCA and also the lower value of the light bills. Reduction of monetary update of the regulatory assets, BRL36 million due to a lower balance.

This was partially compensated by a gain of MTM, BRL99 million and the increase of the risk spread practice by the market. Depreciation increased BRL69 million and taxes, BRL210 million.

Now let’s move to the next slide. Here, we have the net debt and the criteria of the covenants that reached BRL22.8 billion. The EBITDA of the last 12 months was BRL13.4 billion. Therefore, the leverage measured by the net debt over EBITDA was 1.7. I’d like to highlight the approval of the proposal for the payment of dividends and the value is BRL2.4 billion, which took place during the last AGM. Also the payment of the first installment on May 16, the value will be BRL1 billion, equivalent to BRL0.87 per share. The rest will be paid up to the end of the year.

In the next slide, we have the cost of the debt, which is 13.4%, stable if we compare to 2022. Before we have the profile of the gross debt. Our biggest exposure is in CDI with 72%, afterwards 26% IPCA and 2% TJLP.

Lastly, at the right, we have the cash at the end of the quarter, which was BRL5.1 billion with sufficient coverage for short-term amortizations. The average time frame of amortization is 3.5 years.

In the next slide, the CapEx of the quarter was BRL1 billion, which represents a reduction of 11% in relation to last year. In division per segment, we had distribution, the main destination of the CapEx, a total invested of BRL878 million with a larger focus in service of the client, expansion and improvements. In the Generation segment, we invested BRL84 million with maintenance of the projects that already are ongoing and also the building of Cherobim. We also invested BRL113 million in reinforcements, improvements and the finalization of building transmission projects that have begun operating recently. We also destined BRL7 million for commercialization and services.

Thank you very much. Now I’m going to give the floor back to Gustavo Estrella. Thank you so much.

Gustavo Estrella

Thank you, Pan. Well, just to finalize, this is an important year for the company. We are closing here with 20 years since the creation of the CPFL Institute, we have all sorts of initiative programs that make us very proud. I think the challenge here is to reinvent ourselves, reinvent the institute each year, understanding the needs, the connection with the community, the connection with our business. And here, we have one of the most special projects, which is CPFL Hospital, CPFL in the Hospital. We’ve invested a lot in this phase and now in Phase II, BRL140 million to be invested. This phase started last year. We already have invested over BRL63 million with many hospitals. So I think this is showed that it’s a very important social work, a partnership of CPFL with the public hospitals in our concession area, and this translates into better quality service for the population in our concession areas.

I think the challenge is that we continue adapting the institute so that it can really serve the community in the best way possible. So we have the exchange, Brazil, China, the CPFL China, the philosophical cafe, the ideas have a very good program, which goes from the cultural to the social field, we have a lot to celebrate. We’ve done a lot in the institute. And for sure, we will continue doing from now to the future.

I think this ends our presentation. And now we are available for the questions and answers.

Question-and-Answer Session

A – Carlos Cyrino

Thank you, Gustavo. Thank you, Pan. We’re good to open for Q&A [Operator Instructions]. I’m going to move towards the first question, which comes from Andre Sampaio from Santander Bank.

Andre Sampaio

I have two questions. If you could comment about the process of renovation of the distribution concessions. We’ve seen that there is some news about cancellation of meetings, how has this process moved on in relation to the meetings with the government. And also if you can comment about the timing of the potential acquisition of [indiscernible] when do you think this process can be concluded.

Gustavo Estrella

Thank you, Andre, for your questions. In the first place about the renewal of the concession. I think the minister has publicly spoken that the vision of the government is to renew. And these are his words. And what we have now is an open dialogue between the ministry and the company’s until we define the conditions so that we can continue with the renewal of the concessions, and that is our expectation.

Technically speaking, it’s very clear that it makes sense the importance of maintaining vision and long-term perspective for the distribution segment. This is fundamental. And what we defend is that nowadays is a regulation but a mature regulation well built and well executed. So when we have such a regulation it makes it clear that the companies within the regulatory margins, of course, always considering that the regulation takes place due to incentive. So we understand that the long-term perspective for renewal will take place in the terms that the ministry has said, and this is our expectation.

So I think the conversations progressing. I think it’s natural with this process of exchanges ideas. The meetings have been recurrent together with the ministry. So we are in the process of reaching a definition, and we know the deadline for the end of this year. The expectation is that we close this subject before that. So we’re working and we’re very focused to advance the quickest possible in this concession renewal process.

As for the [indiscernible], we don’t have too much to say about it. But what is public is that there’s an open sales process. CPFL reiterates our interest in the asset. We are doing this. So it is a process that has its natural course. And we are interested in understanding this is a good opportunity as growth in distribution.

Carlos Cyrino

Anyone else have any other questions? Well, we have no further questions. So then we will end our Q&A and we will then end our call.

If any question was left and answered, please write to Investor Relations. We are available to clarify. I’m then going to give the floor to Gustavo for him to close this event.

Gustavo Estrella

Gentlemen, I thank you all for the — for your presence. I would just like to highlight that it’s one more quarter with robust results with growth of 30%, 40% net profit. I think we are in the direction of stable results with important growth very much derived from our investment program. And I think we have the capacity. We have the investment expectations for the next 5 years of a lot, and we can work with organic growth with additional investments in the concession areas and a discussion of intelligent metering, which would be additional above the BRL25 million and we are always paying attention to merge and acquisition opportunities. We follow the market, whether it be distribution, transmission. I think generation today is more challenging but we can have good opportunities for growth in the future. I thank you all for your participation, and I wish you all a very good afternoon.