Monday, May 13, 2013

PNM Annual Meeting a Tight Operation, Without Flair and Demonstrators

If Pat Collawn runs the rest of PNM Resources the way she runs the annual meeting, then PNM is a tight ship indeed.
By my count the May 9 meeting took 28 minutes. The Albuquerque Journal said 35 minutes. Whatever. Speedy, in any case. Among the highlights were the zero questions after Collawn’s CEO address. She is also board chair and president.
The meeting was in the “HQ-4 Conference Center” in PNM’s new/old corporate headquarters in downtown Albuquerque. “HQ” must mean headquarters. The “4” was for fourth floor. The building, as I remember, was built as PNM’s headquarters in the 1970s or 80s and was replaced by the now-empty and for sale Alvarado Square with its long since defunct solar collectors. No demonstrators cluttered the entrance, unlike the 2012 meeting, held in an even more obscure conference room in Alvarado Square.
PNM reoccupied the renovated present headquarters in late 2012.
HQ-4 seats about 60 with tables. About 40 people attended the meeting including PNM directors and staff. PNM had 11,469 shareholders as of February 22, the proxy said. Two police officers graced the back of the room. To get to HQ-4, people had to run a security gauntlet including a security staffer joining the elevator ride to the fourth floor.
The annual report, available at the door, was just shy of a quarter inch thick. The report used only black ink. The paper was fancy newsprint with a card stock cover.
Like the annual report, Collawn’s CEO speech was without flair. Glitz came post-speech with the unveiling of a TV commercial with environmental themes. A utility has to do that, I suppose. Collawn had good words about PNM’s continuing investment in renewable energy, again a necessity. But happily the good words came without the nauseating channeling of Al Gore that accompanied similar recitations from Jeff Sterba, Collawn’s predecessor. Collawn’s meeting also came without the freebie CFL light bulbs that brightened Sterba’s meetings.
Good news for shareholders came at the end of Collawn’s remarks. The company hopes for another dividend increase at the end of 2013, she said. The current dividend is 14.5 cents per share. In 2003 the rate was 23 cents per share. It went to 16 cents per share in 2004. The rate was 12.5 cents per share for several years ending in 2011.
The past year was a “very busy but productive 12 months,” Collawn said. There is “a lot of positive news,” but also many challenges for the approximately 2,000 employees in New Mexico and Texas.
“The state of the company is strong (despite) difficult economic conditions in New Mexico.” Texas is the economic bright spot. “The economic environment (in New Mexico) is not good… that impacts PNM sales.”
The big accomplishments of the year were getting PNM’s financial condition back to enabling the company’s debt to be rated “investment grade,” meaning PNM will pay less to borrow money, and cutting a deal with the federal Environmental Protection Agency to keep the San Juan Generating Station operating, reduce emissions more than the EPA wanted and do it for much less money. The EPA is “showcasing this New Mexico agreement as the way the process should work,” Collawn said.

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