Cleco Corp. : Cleco Corporation reports full-year 2012 operational earnings of $2.46 per share

Cleco Corp. : Cleco Corporation reports full-year 2012 operational earnings of
                               $2.46 per share

  *Sustainable cost management efforts helped offset below normal 2012
    weather

  *Demonstrated growth through long-term regulated wholesale contract with
    Dixie Electric Membership Corporation (DEMCO)

  *Additional wholesale load justified adding generating capacity at Cleco
    Power with Coughlin Power Station selected as low-cost option

  *2013 operational earnings guidance affirmed at $2.45 to $2.55 per diluted
    share

PINEVILLE, LA., Feb. 19, 2013 - Cleco Corporation (NYSE:CNL) posted 2012
earnings of $163.6 million, or $2.70 per diluted share, down $32.1 million
from the $195.7 million recorded in 2011. Fourth-quarter earnings were $23.1
million or $0.38 per diluted share, down $7.5 million from the $30.6 million
recorded in the fourth quarter of 2011. Operational earnings for 2012, which
exclude the Acadia Units 1 and 2 indemnifications and other nonoperational
gains, were $149.1 million, or $2.46 per diluted share, while operational
earnings for 2011 were $152.9 million or $2.51 per diluted share, which
excludes the gains on the Acadia Unit 2 transaction and other nonoperational
gains.

"Our full-year operational earnings of $2.46 are at the top of our final 2012
guidance range of $2.40 to $2.46 per share. We achieved this despite less
than favorable weather through our focus on low-cost and reliable operations
of our regulated utility business," said Bruce Williamson, president and CEO
of Cleco Corporation. "During 2012, we focused the company on driving down
many areas of our cost structure while maintaining operational reliability. In
addition to our sustainable cost management program, we resolved a number of
legacy tax issues in a positive fashion for our shareholders and customers. 

"In addition to delivering solid earnings per share, we positioned the company
for the future through a number of strategic initiatives. These include
advancing our utility's wholesale growth strategy with the signing of our
largest ever long-term full-requirements wholesale power agreement with DEMCO.
We continued the path to winding down our Cleco Midstream business with the
announcement that Coughlin Power Station was the winning bidder in Cleco
Power's 2012 request for proposals for additional generation capacity," said
Williamson. "In 2012, we also completed our transmission project in south
Louisiana and settled our Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC)
transmission rate case. In addition, we used our strong cash flow to self-fund
system improvement projects and environmental upgrades to our plants to help
keep our fleet out in front of our competitors as our industry faces stricter
environmental mandates.

"As we head into 2013, we are focused on three main areas," said Williamson.


  *"We will continue to deliver competitive, reliable energy to our customers
    by maintaining focus on our cost structure. 

  *We will work closely with the Louisiana Public Service Commission on the
    transfer of Coughlin into Cleco Power and on several other regulatory
    issues that will provide certainty for our investors and customers. 

  *We will seek additional long-term wholesale contracts modeled on the DEMCO
    contract, which includes capacity, energy and services and allows
    progressive municipalities and cooperatives to drive economic growth
    through stable electric rates." 

Earnings Guidance:

Cleco is affirming its 2013 consolidated operational earnings in the range of
$2.45 to $2.55 per diluted share. This estimate assumes normal weather for
the year and an estimated consolidated tax rate of 32 percent. The guidance
range excludes adjustments related to life insurance policies and expiring
indemnifications. Please refer to "Operational Earnings Adjustments" in this
news release for a description of these adjustments.

Financial Highlights:

Fourth Quarter 2012

  *Cleco reports fourth-quarter GAAP earnings applicable to common stock of
    $23.1 million, or $0.38 per diluted share, compared to $30.6 million, or
    $0.51 per diluted share for the fourth quarter of 2011.

Year-to-Date 2012

  *Cleco reports GAAP earnings applicable to common stock for 2012 of $163.6
    million, or $2.70 per diluted share, compared to $195.7 million, or $3.22
    per diluted share for 2011.

     Consolidated Earnings - Reconciliation of GAAP to Non-GAAP Measures
                                     Diluted Earnings Per Share
                      For the three months ended Dec.  For the year ended Dec.
                                    31                           31
Subsidiary                 2012              2011         2012         2011
Cleco Power LLC              $0.41            $0.39        $2.42        $2.34
Cleco Midstream
Resources LLC               (0.05)             0.06       (0.07)         0.05
Corporate and Other^1            -                -         0.11         0.12
Operational diluted
earnings per share
(Non-GAAP)                    0.36             0.45         2.46         2.51
Adjustments^2                 0.02             0.06         0.24         0.71
Diluted earnings per
share applicable to
common stock                 $0.38            $0.51        $2.70        $3.22

GAAP refers to United States generally accepted accounting principles.

^1 Includes dividends and redemption costs on preferred stock
^2 Refer to "Operational Earnings Adjustments" in this news release

Quarter-Over-Quarter Operational Diluted Earnings Per Share Reconciliation:

 $0.45    2011 fourth-quarter operational diluted earnings per share
  0.05    Non-fuel revenue
  0.02   Rate refund accrual
(0.04)   Other expenses, net
  0.03   Interest charges
  0.02   AFUDC (allowance for funds used during construction)
(0.06)   Income taxes
 $0.02    Cleco Power results
(0.11)    Cleco Midstream results
     -    Corporate and Other results
 $0.36    2012 fourth-quarter operational diluted earnings per share
  0.02    Adjustments^1
 $0.38    Reported GAAP diluted earnings per share

^1Refer to "Operational Earnings Adjustments" in this news release

Cleco Power

  *Higher non-fuel revenue increased earnings by $0.05 per share compared to
    the fourth quarter of 2011 primarily due to $0.06 per share of higher base
    revenue due to an annual base rate adjustment related to the formula rate
    plan, favorable weather, and higher commercial sales. This amount was
    partially offset by $0.01 per share of lower other net miscellaneous
    revenue.

  *Lower rate refund accrual increased earnings by $0.02 per share compared
    to the fourth quarter of 2011 primarily due to a change in estimated
    accruals.

  *Higher other expenses, net, decreased earnings by $0.04 per share compared
    to the fourth quarter of 2011 primarily due to $0.03 per share of higher
    depreciation and amortization expense and $0.01 per share of higher net
    other miscellaneous expenses.

  *Lower interest charges increased earnings by $0.03 per share compared to
    the fourth quarter of 2011 primarily due to $0.03 per share related to
    uncertain tax positions, $0.01 per share related to reacquired debt in
    October and December 2011, and $0.01 per share related to the retirement
    of pollution control bonds in January and May 2012. The issuance of
    private placement notes in December 2011 and May 2012 partially offset
    these amounts by $0.02 per share.

  *Higher AFUDC increased earnings by $0.02 per share compared to the fourth
    quarter of 2011 primarily due to higher AFUDC related to the advanced
    metering infrastructure project and miscellaneous transmission projects.

  *Higher income taxes decreased earnings by $0.06 per share compared to the
    fourth quarter of 2011 primarily due to $0.04 per share for the loss of
    state tax benefits related to tax credits and other state attributes and
    $0.02 per share related to the absence of the settlement of the 2001
    through 2003 IRS audit.

Cleco Midstream Resources

  *Midstream's results decreased earnings by $0.11 per share compared to the
    fourth quarter of 2011 primarily due to $0.12 per share related to the
    absence of the settlement of the 2001 through 2003 IRS audit, partially
    offset by $0.01 per share of lower other miscellaneous expenses.

For a discussion of other transactions affecting Cleco Midstream's results,
please refer to "Operational Earnings Adjustments - Acadia Units 1 and 2
Indemnifications" below.

Corporate and Other

  *Higher interest charges decreased earnings by $0.01 per share compared to
    the fourth quarter of 2011 primarily due to higher amounts related to
    uncertain tax positions.

  *Lower income taxes increased earnings by $0.01 per share compared to the
    fourth quarter of 2011 as a result of $0.02 per share for the loss of
    state tax benefits related to tax credits and other state attributes, and
    $0.01 per share for tax returns filed, partially offset by $0.01 per share
    related to the absence of the settlement of the 2001 through 2003 IRS
    audit, and $0.01 per share for tax credits.

Year-Over-Year Operational Diluted Earnings Per Share Reconciliation:

 $2.51    Year ended Dec. 31, 2011, operational diluted earnings per share
(0.08)    Non-fuel revenue
  0.06   Rate refund accrual
(0.12)   Other expenses, net
  0.16    Interest charges
  0.03   AFUDC (allowance for funds used during construction)
  0.03   Income taxes
 $0.08    Cleco Power results
(0.12)    Cleco Midstream results
(0.01)    Corporate and Other results
 $2.46    Year ended Dec. 31, 2012, operational diluted earnings per share
  0.24    Adjustments^1
 $2.70    Reported GAAP diluted earnings per share

^1Refer to "Operational Earnings Adjustments" in this news release

Cleco Power

  *Lower non-fuel revenue decreased earnings by $0.08 per share compared to
    2011 primarily due to $0.09 per share relating to milder weather, $0.06
    per share from lower mineral lease payments, and $0.05 per share from the
    absence of a gain on the sale of Cleco Power's fuel oil inventory. These
    amounts were partially offset by $0.11 per share from an annual base rate
    adjustment related to the formula rate plan and $0.01 per share of higher
    other miscellaneous revenue. 

  *Lower rate refund accrual increased earnings by $0.06 per share compared
    to 2011 primarily due to a change in estimated accruals.

  *Higher other expenses, net, decreased earnings by $0.12 per share compared
    to 2011 primarily due to $0.10 per share of higher depreciation and
    amortization expense, $0.07 per share of higher net non-recoverable
    wholesale power purchases and other capacity charges, and $0.02 per share
    of higher other taxes, primarily due to property taxes. These amounts
    were partially offset by $0.05 per share of lower other operations and
    maintenance expenses, and $0.02 per share of higher royalty income. 

  *Lower interest charges increased earnings by $0.16 per share compared to
    2011 primarily due to $0.12 per share related to uncertain tax positions,
    $0.08 per share related to reacquired debt in October and December 2011,
    and $0.03 per share related to the retirement of pollution control bonds
    in January and May 2012. Partially offsetting these amounts were $0.07
    per share related to the issuance of private placement notes in December
    2011 and May 2012.

  *Higher AFUDC increased earnings by $0.03 per share compared to 2011
    primarily due to higher AFUDC accruals related to the advanced metering
    infrastructure project and miscellaneous transmission projects.

  *Lower income taxes increased earnings by $0.03 per share compared to 2011
    primarily due to $0.04 per share for tax returns filed, $0.03 per share
    for the settlement of legacy tax issues, and $0.03 per share for tax
    credits. These amounts were partially offset by $0.03 per share for the
    loss of state tax benefits related to tax credits and other state
    attributes, $0.02 per share related to the absence of the settlement of
    the 2001 through 2003 IRS audit, and $0.02 per share related to the
    absence in 2012 of the valuation allowance reversal in 2011.

Cleco Midstream Resources

  *Midstream's results decreased earnings by $0.12 per share compared to 2011
    primarily due to $0.12 from the absence of the settlement of the 2001
    through 2003 IRS audit and $0.07 per share of higher operating and
    maintenance expenses. These amounts were partially offset by $0.07 per
    share of higher tolling revenue.

For a discussion of other transactions affecting Cleco Midstream's results,
please refer to "Operational Earnings Adjustments - Gain from Acadia Unit 2
Transaction and Acadia Units 1 and 2 Indemnifications" below.

Corporate and Other

  *Higher income taxes decreased earnings by $0.01 per share compared to 2011
    primarily due to $0.06 per share for tax returns filed and $0.01 per share
    related to the absence of the settlement of the 2001 through 2003 IRS
    audit. These amounts were partially offset by $0.06 per share for tax
    credits.

Operational Earnings Adjustments:

Cleco's management uses operational earnings per share, which is a non-GAAP
measure, to evaluate the operations of Cleco and establish goals for
management and employees. Management believes this presentation is
appropriate and enables investors to more accurately compare Cleco's
operational financial performance over the periods presented. Operational
diluted earnings per share as presented here may not be comparable to
similarly titled measures used by other companies. The following table
provides a reconciliation of operational diluted earnings per share to
reported GAAP diluted earnings per share.

  Reconciliation of Operational Diluted Earnings Per Share to Reported GAAP
                          Diluted Earnings Per Share

                                       Diluted Earnings Per Share
                           For the three months ended  For the year ended Dec.
                                    Dec. 31                      31
                               2012          2011         2012         2011
Operational diluted
earnings per share              $0.36         $0.45        $2.46        $2.51
Life insurance policies             -          0.06         0.02         0.06
Gain on Acadia Unit 2
transaction                         -             -            -         0.63
Acadia Unit 1
indemnifications                    -             -         0.08         0.02
Acadia Unit 2
indemnifications                 0.02             -         0.14            -
Reported GAAP diluted
earnings per share
applicable to common stock      $0.38         $0.51        $2.70        $3.22

Reconciling adjustments from operational diluted earnings per share to GAAP
diluted earnings per share are as follows:

Life Insurance Policies

Cleco has life insurance policies covering certain members of management.
These policies have a cash surrender value component that is carried as an
asset and adjusted due to market changes, premium payments, or policy
redemptions. Cleco is unable to predict market changes and cash surrender
value amounts of these policies, and management does not consider these
adjustments to be a component of operational earnings.

Gain from Acadia Unit 2 Transaction

On April 29, 2011, the disposition of Acadia Unit 2 and half of Acadia Power
Station's common facilities was completed resulting in the recognition of a
gain of $0.63 per share for 2011. Because this is a one-time gain, management
does not consider this adjustment to be a component of operational earnings.

Acadia Units 1 and 2 Indemnifications

Acadia Power Partners, LLC provided limited guarantees and indemnifications to
Cleco Power and Entergy Louisiana when they acquired Acadia Units 1 and 2 in
February 2010 and April 2011, respectively. Acadia Power Partners, LLC and
Acadia Power Holdings will reduce the indemnification liabilities either
through expiration of the contractual life or through changes in the
probability of a claim arising. During the fourth quarter of 2012, the
contractual expiration of the underlying indemnifications increased earnings
by $0.02 per share. The resulting adjustment for this item had no impact for
the fourth quarter of 2011. During the year ended December 31, 2012 and 2011,
the contractual expiration of the underlying indemnifications increased
earnings $0.22 per share and $0.02 per share, respectively.

Cleco management will discuss the company's fourth-quarter 2012 results during
a conference call scheduled for 7:30 a.m. Central time (8:30 a.m. Eastern
time) Wednesday, February 20, 2013. The call will be webcast live on the
Internet. A replay will be available for 12 months. Investors may access the
webcast through the company's website at www.cleco.com by selecting "Investor
Relations" and then "Q4 2012 Cleco Corporation Earnings Conference Call."

Please note: In addition to historical financial information, this news
release contains forward-looking statements about future results and
circumstances. There are many risks and uncertainties with respect to such
forward-looking statements, including the weather and other natural phenomena,
state and federal legislative and regulatory initiatives, the timing and
extent of changes in commodity prices and interest rates, the operating
performance of Cleco Power's and Cleco Midstream's facilities, the impact of
the global economic environment, and other risks and uncertainties more fully
described in the company's latest Annual Report on Form 10-K. Actual results
may differ materially from those indicated in such forward-looking statements.

Cleco Corporation is a regional energy company headquartered in Pineville, La.
Cleco owns a regulated electric utility company, Cleco Power LLC, which owns 9
generating units with a total nameplate capacity of 2,565 megawatts and serves
approximately 283,000 customers in Louisiana through its retail business and
10 communities across Louisiana and Mississippi through wholesale power
contracts. Cleco also owns a wholesale energy business, Cleco Midstream
Resources LLC, which owns two generating units with a total nameplate capacity
of 775 megawatts. For more information about Cleco, visit www.cleco.com.

Analyst Contact:
Tom Miller
(318) 484-7642
Media Contact:
Robbyn Cooper
(318) 484-7136

                                For the three months ended Dec. 31
(Unaudited)               (million kWh)            (thousands)
                       2012    2011   Change     2012        2011      Change
Electric Sales
Residential             790     772    2.3%     $61,884     $58,404     6.0 %
Commercial              634     613    3.4%      44,884      42,652     5.2 %
Industrial              601     596    0.8%      22,457      21,642     3.8 %
Other retail             32      32       -       2,472       2,331     6.0 %
Surcharge                 -       -       -       2,333       3,161   (26.2)%
Other                     -       -       -     (1,565)     (1,552)    (0.8)%
Total retail          2,057   2,013    2.2%     132,465     126,638     4.6 %
Sales for resale        461     393   17.3%      11,813      11,200     5.5 %
Unbilled               (54)    (49)   10.2%     (3,501)     (2,980)   (17.5)%
Total retail and
wholesale customer
sales                 2,464   2,357    4.5%    $140,777    $134,858     4.4 %

                                   For the year ended Dec. 31
(Unaudited)             (million kWh)              (thousands)
                    2012     2011    Change      2012        2011      Change
Electric Sales
Residential         3,624    3,877   (6.5)%    $281,378    $294,076    (4.3)%
Commercial          2,655    2,650    0.2 %     181,093     179,786     0.7 %
Industrial          2,311    2,366   (2.3)%      85,675      85,965    (0.3)%
Other retail          133      134   (0.7)%       9,908       9,815     0.9 %
Surcharge               -        -        -       9,133      10,695   (14.6)%
Other                   -        -        -     (6,252)     (6,426)     2.7 %
Total retail        8,723    9,027   (3.4)%     560,935     573,911    (2.3)%
Sales for resale    1,934    1,888    2.4 %      47,767      45,633     4.7 %
Unbilled             (43)    (139)   69.1 %     (2,125)    (14,520)    85.4 %
Total retail and
wholesale customer
sales              10,614   10,776   (1.5)%    $606,577    $605,024     0.3 %

                              CLECO CORPORATION
                      CONSOLIDATED STATEMENTS OF INCOME
               (Thousands, except share and per share amounts)
                                 (Unaudited)
For the three months ended Dec. 31                       2012         2011
Operating revenue
Electric operations                                     $223,393     $228,472
Tolling operations                                             -        2,868
Other operations                                          11,693       11,187
Gross operating revenue                                  235,086      242,527
Electric customer credits                                (1,655)      (3,406)
Operating revenue, net                                   233,431      239,121
Operating expenses
Fuel used for electric generation                         72,789       85,245
Power purchased for utility customers                      9,065        9,872
Other operations                                          33,996       33,569
Maintenance                                               25,010       22,411
Depreciation                                              33,380       30,829
Taxes other than income taxes                              9,317        7,587
Loss on sales of assets                                      108          959
Total operating expenses                                 183,665      190,472
Operating income                                          49,766       48,649
Interest income                                              183           97
Allowance for other funds used during construction         2,414        1,190
Equity loss from investees, before tax                       (1)            -
Other income                                               4,894        5,584
Other expense                                            (1,976)      (2,785)
Interest charges
Interest charges, including amortization of debt
expense, premium, and discount, net                       21,777      (6,923)
Allowance for borrowed funds used during construction      (826)        (430)
Total interest charges                                    20,951      (7,353)
Income before income taxes                                34,329       60,088
Federal and state income tax expense                      11,217       29,445
Net income applicable to common stock                    $23,112      $30,643
Average number of basic common shares outstanding     60,353,185   60,282,040
Average number of diluted common shares outstanding   60,625,139   60,557,515
Basic earnings per share
Net income applicable to common stock                      $0.38        $0.51
Diluted earnings per share
Net income applicable to common stock                      $0.38        $0.51
Cash dividends paid per share of common stock            $0.3375      $0.3125

                              CLECO CORPORATION
                      CONSOLIDATED STATEMENTS OF INCOME
               (Thousands, except share and per share amounts)
                                 (Unaudited)
For the year ended Dec. 31                              2012          2011
Operating revenue
Electric operations                                    $944,169    $1,051,956
Tolling operations                                            -        19,004
Other operations                                         50,158        52,962
Affiliate revenue                                             -           202
Gross operating revenue                                 994,327     1,124,124
Electric customer credits                                 (630)       (6,811)
Operating revenue, net                                  993,697     1,117,313
Operating expenses
Fuel used for electric generation                       280,553       383,254
Power purchased for utility customers                    53,134        70,462
Other operations                                        120,898       123,849
Maintenance                                              86,488        82,076
Depreciation                                            132,407       122,578
Taxes other than income taxes                            38,515        36,356
Loss on sales of assets                                      51           491
Total operating expenses                                712,046       819,066
Operating income                                        281,651       298,247
Interest income                                             346           891
Allowance for other funds used during construction        6,711         4,947
Equity income from investees, before tax                      -        62,050
Other income                                             29,117         8,914
Other expense                                           (4,694)       (5,646)
Interest charges
Interest charges, including amortization of debt
expense, premium, and discount, net                      86,448        72,445
Allowance for borrowed funds used during
construction                                            (2,292)       (1,787)
Total interest charges                                   84,156        70,658
Income before income taxes                              228,975       298,745
Federal and state income tax expense                     65,327       102,897
Net income                                              163,648       195,848
Preferred dividends requirements                              -            26
Preferred stock redemption costs                              -           112
Net income applicable to common stock                  $163,648      $195,710
Average number of basic common shares outstanding    60,370,588    60,488,740
Average number of diluted common shares outstanding  60,628,129    60,833,564
Basic earnings per share
Net income applicable to common stock                     $2.71         $3.24
Diluted earnings per share
Net income applicable to common stock                     $2.70         $3.22
Cash dividends paid per share of common stock             $1.30       $1.1225

                              CLECO CORPORATION
                         CONSOLIDATED BALANCE SHEETS
                                 (Thousands)
                                 (Unaudited)
                                           At Dec. 31, 2012  At Dec. 31, 2011
Assets
Current assets
Cash and cash equivalents                         $31,020           $93,576
Accounts receivable, net                           77,034            79,864
Other current assets                              339,284           283,345
Total current assets                              447,338           456,785
Property, plant and equipment, net              3,009,461         2,893,899
Equity investment in investees                     14,540            14,540
Prepayments, deferred charges and other           676,010           684,978
Total assets                                   $4,147,349        $4,050,202
Liabilities
Current liabilities
Long-term debt due within one year                $91,140           $26,099
Accounts payable                                  102,695           127,467
Other current liabilities                         100,795           167,436
Total current liabilities                         294,630           321,002
Deferred credits                                1,096,248           972,287
Long-term debt, net                             1,257,258         1,337,056
Total liabilities                               2,648,136         2,630,345
Shareholders' equity
Common shareholders' equity                     1,531,583         1,447,996
Accumulated other comprehensive loss             (32,370)          (28,139)
Total shareholders' equity                      1,499,213         1,419,857
Total liabilities and shareholders' equity     $4,147,349        $4,050,202

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