IDACORP, Inc. (IDA), an Idaho utility, has surprised on the Zacks Consensus Estimate 3 out of the last 4 quarters by an average of 20.6%.

Company Description

IDACORP, Inc. is a holding company with three companies: Idaho Power, IDACORP Financial Services (“IFS”) and Ida-West Energy Company. Idaho Power generates electricity in a 24,000 square mile area in southern Idaho and eastern Oregon to a population of about 982,000.

The company operates 17 hydroelectric power plants, 2 gas-fired plants and shares ownership in 3 coal-fired generating plants.

Ida-West Energy, an affiliate of Idaho Power, operates and has an ownership interest in 9 Qualifying Facilities in Idaho and California.

IFS was formed in 1986 as an investing vehicle for the unregulated capital of Idaho Power. It currently holds a $200 million portfolio of tax credit real estate properties, including historic properties, throughout the United States.

IDACORP Surprised by 68.97% in the Fourth Quarter

On Feb 23, IDACORP reported its fourth quarter 2009 results and easily beat the Zacks Consensus by 20 cents. Earnings per share were 49 cents compared to the Zacks Consensus of 29 cents. This was also far better than the fourth quarter of 2008, when EPS was just 16 cents.

Idaho Power, the company’s principal subsidiary, saw net income rise to $25.9 million from $7.7 million in the year ago quarter.

The company is optimistic it has weathered the worst of the recession.

“We enter 2010 financially healthy with a two year regulatory framework established in our Idaho retail jurisdiction and our Langley Gulch Power Plant on schedule to come on line in 2012, positioning us to meet the customer needs we foresee coming out of the economic downturn,” said IDACORP, Inc. and Idaho Power Company CEO J. LaMont Keen.

2010 Earnings Guidance

IDACORP is forecasting earnings for 2010 in the range of $2.65 to $2.80 per share. The guidance includes benefits assumed under the settlement agreement approved by the Idaho Public Utilities Commission (IPUC) among Idaho Power Company, several of Idaho Power’s customers, the IPUC staff and others with respect to rates for 2009-2011.

2010 Zacks Consensus Estimate Rises

Given the company’s guidance range, analysts moved to raise their 2010 estimates. 4 estimates were revised higher in the last 30 days pushing the 2010 Zacks Consensus up to $2.72 from $2.57 per share.

Value Fundamentals

IDACORP is a Zacks #1 Rank (strong buy) stock. It has a forward P/E of 12.9 and a price-to-book ratio of 1.2, which is in-line with the industry average.

Like most utilities, IDACORP pays a dividend, which is currently yielding 3.4%.

Tracey Ryniec is the Value Stock Strategist for She is also the Editor in charge of the market-beating Zacks Value Trader service.

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