) to strong buy.
Analyst David Carey says he anticipates better than expected guidance due to strong Q4 performance of the company's Aquila Energy unit. Carey raised his 2000 EPS estimate to $2.20 and boosted his 2001 EPS estimate to $2.45.
The increase in profitability from Aquila "could not come at better time," says Carey, as the company is preparing an initial public offering of a portion of Aquila later in 2001. The IPO is expected to support Utilicorp's share price, which currently doesn't reflect the strong business that's been developed at Aquila.
Carey also notes that the company has said it has no exposure to the troubled California energy market.