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Original Source: FD (FAIR DISCLOSURE) WIRE
OPERATOR: Good day, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to today's 2004 Empire District Electric first quarter earnings release conference call. Today's call is being recorded.
For opening remarks and introductions, I would like to turn the call over to Ms. Jan Watson, Secretary and Treasurer. Please go ahead, ma'am.
JAN WATSON, SECRETARY AND TREASURER, EMPIRE DISTRICT ELECTRIC: Good morning. Thank you for joining us for Empire District Electric Company's teleconference to discuss the company's operations and to review the financial results for both the quarter and 12 months ended March 31, 2004. A live webcast of this call is available on the Empire website at www.empiredistrict.com. Bill Gipson, President and CEO of Empire District Electric Company, and Greg Knapp, Vice President of Finance and CFO, will give the presentation this morning. Bill and Greg will be available to answer questions after the presentation.
In preparation for this presentation you should have received either a fax or e-mail of our earnings news release sent out yesterday morning. If did you not receive this information please call Marylyn [Ponder] at 1-417--625-6142, and she will fax the copy to you immediately. In addition our earnings press release can be found on our website. Again, that is www.empiredistrict.com. The press release can be found by choosing investor relations and then clicking on financial releases. Before we get started, let me remind you that in our press release and in this call today we are discussing issues that may contain forward-looking statements and estimates that are subject to risks and uncertainties. Please refer to our most recent 10K filing for a list of factors that could cause results to differ from the management's projections, forecasts, estimates, and expectations.
I will now turn the call over to Bill Gipson to begin our presentation.
WILLIAM GIBSON, PRESIDENT AND CEO, EMPIRE DISTRICT ELECTRIC: Thank you, Jan. Good morning, everyone, welcome to our teleconference. Today we will discuss the financial results for the first quarter and 12 months ended March and update you on a few other recent activities.
Yesterday we reported earnings for the first quarter of 6 cents a share compared to earnings of 25 cents per share for the first quarter of last year. For the 12 months ending March 31, earnings were $1.07 per share compared to $1.43 for the year ending March 31 last year. In a few moments Greg -- excuse me. It's allergy season here in southwest Missouri, and I have got a bit of it.
In a few moments, Greg will give you the details on the issues that impacted our earnings. At yesterday's board meeting, the board of directors declared a quarterly dividend of 32 cents per share payable June 15 for shareholders of record as of June 1. This represents a 5.9% annual yield on yesterday's closing price of $21.70. Also, at our annual meeting of shareholders, which was held yesterday, shareholders re-elected Mr. Ross Hartley and Dr. Julio Leon, and elected for the first time to our board Mr. Alan Tomes to serve three-year terms. Ross Hartley is of Jackson Hole, Wyoming. He is a private investor and runs a small venture capital firm. He is also the co-founder and director of the national information consortium, which is an investor-owned company that is the leader in providing e-government solutions for Federal, state, and local governments. Ross has been a director since 1988. Dr. Leon is of Joplin. He is president of Missouri Southern State University, a post he has held since 1982. Dr. Leon serves in a leadership role in an educational organization as well as being an active leader in the Joplin community. He has been a director since 2001. Alan Tomes is of Mill Creek, Washington. He is a consultant with Wilks and Associates LEGC of San Francisco, California, providing regulatory advocacy services. He was formerly a vice president for Verizon Communications. Mr. Tomes also served as chairman of the Iowa utilities board, and from 1996 to 1994 held various executive positions in the state of Iowa. He has also served on the board executive committee and is treasurer of the national association of regulatory commissioners.
I will now turn our presentation over to Greg, who will cover the financial details.
GREG KNAPP, VP AND CFO, EMPIRE DISTRICT ELECTRIC: Thank you, Bill.
As stated earlier, we reported earnings yesterday for the first quarter of 2004 of 6 cents per share compared to earnings at 25 cents per share for the first quarter of 2003. The significant …