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CenterPoint Energy reports third quarter 2012 earnings

Houston, TX - November 7, 2012 - CenterPoint Energy, Inc. (NYSE: CNP) today reported net income of $10 million, or $0.02 per diluted share, for the third quarter of 2012. The results for the third quarter of 2012 include two unusual items: (i) a $252 million non-cash goodwill impairment charge associated with its competitive natural gas sales and services business, which has no tax effect and (ii) a $136 million non-cash, pre-tax gain associated with the acquisition of the additional 50 percent interest in the Waskom gathering and processing joint venture. Excluding these amounts, the third quarter net income would have been $174 million, or $0.40 per diluted share.

Net income for the third quarter 2011 was $973 million, or $2.27 per diluted share. These results also included an unusual item: net income of $811 million, or $1.89 per diluted share, associated with the final resolution of the true-up appeal. Excluding this unusual item, net income for the third quarter of 2011 would have been $162 million, or $0.38 per diluted share.

Operating income for the third quarter of 2012 was $88 million. Excluding unusual items, operating income for the third quarter of 2012 would have been $340 million compared to $357 million for the same period last year.

“While this quarter’s financial results were impacted by two unusual items, our overall business performance was solid and in line with our expectations,” said David M. McClanahan, president and chief executive officer of CenterPoint Energy. “Our regulated electric and gas distribution utilities achieved strong results and our midstream and energy services businesses performed well given the current market environment of low natural gas prices and minimal geographic price differentials.”

For the nine months ended September 30, 2012, net income was $283 million, or $0.66 per diluted share, compared to $1,240 million, or $2.89 per diluted share, for the same period of 2011. Excluding the effects of the unusual items noted above, net income would have been $447 million, or $1.04 per diluted share, for the nine months ended September 30, 2012, compared to $429 million, or $1.00 per diluted share, for the same period of 2011.

Operating income for the nine months ended September 30, 2012 was $728 million. Excluding unusual items, operating income for the nine months ended September 30, 2012 would have been $980 million compared to $1,024 million for the same period last year.

Electric Transmission & Distribution

The electric transmission & distribution segment reported operating income of $242 million for the third quarter of 2012, consisting of $205 million from the regulated electric transmission & distribution utility operations (TDU) and $37 million related to securitization bonds. Operating income for the third quarter of 2011 was $244 million, consisting of $213 million from the TDU and $31 million related to securitization bonds. Operating income for the TDU benefited from growth of over 40,000 metered customers since September 2011, higher transmission-related revenue, ongoing recognition of deferred equity returns associated primarily with the company’s true-up proceeds, and higher miscellaneous revenue. These increases were more than offset by a revenue decrease caused by a return to more normal weather when compared to the weather experienced in 2011 as well as impacts from new rates implemented in September 2011.

Operating income for the nine months ended September 30, 2012, was $540 million, consisting of $428 million from the TDU and $112 million related to securitization bonds. Operating income for the same period of 2011 was $530 million, consisting of $434 million from the TDU and $96 million related to securitization bonds.

Natural Gas Distribution

The natural gas distribution segment reported operating income of $5 million for the third quarter of 2012 compared to a loss of $2 million for the same period of 2011. Operating income improved primarily as a result of customer growth, reduced expenses, and rate changes. This was partially offset by an increase in depreciation due to assets being placed in service.

Operating income for the nine months ended September 30, 2012, was $135 million compared to $153 million for the same period of 2011.

Interstate Pipelines

The interstate pipelines segment reported operating income of $48 million for the third quarter of 2012 compared to $60 million for the same period of 2011. The decline was primarily due to reductions in seasonal and market sensitive transportation services and ancillary services, as well as a reduction in compressor efficiency on our Carthage to Perryville pipeline due to lower volumes.

In addition to operating income, this segment recorded equity income of $8 million for the third quarter of 2012 from its 50 percent interest in the Southeast Supply Header (SESH) compared to $6 million for the same period of 2011. This improvement was primarily due to the restructuring and extension of a long-term agreement with an anchor shipper at the end of 2011.

Operating income for the nine months ended September 30, 2012, was $160 million compared to $196 million for the same period of 2011. In addition to operating income, this segment recorded equity income of $20 million for the nine months ended September 30, 2012, from its 50 percent interest in SESH compared to $15 million for the same period of 2011.

Field Services

The field services segment reported operating income of $55 million for the third quarter of 2012 compared to $61 million for the same period of 2011. Operating income benefited from growth in the core business and additional income from two acquisitions completed in the second and third quarters, which were offset by lower commodity prices from the sale of retained natural gas, the timing of revenues from contracts with throughput commitments, and higher depreciation expense due to assets being placed in service.

As of August 1, 2012, Waskom’s earnings are now included in Field Services’ operating income as the company acquired the remaining 50 percent ownership on July 31, 2012. In the third quarter of 2011, this segment reported equity earnings of $2 million from its 50 percent interest in its Waskom gathering and processing joint venture. Equity income from Waskom for the month of July 2012 was less than $1 million.

Operating income for the nine months ended September 30, 2012, was $153 million compared to $136 million for the same period of 2011. Equity income from Waskom was $5 million for the nine months ended September 30, 2012 as compared to $7 million for the nine months ended September 30, 2011.

Competitive Natural Gas Sales and Services

The competitive natural gas sales and services segment reported an operating loss of $7 million for the third quarter of 2012, excluding the $252 million goodwill impairment charge, compared to an operating loss of $10 million for the same period of 2011. The third quarter of 2012 included losses of $9 million resulting from mark-to-market accounting for derivatives associated with certain forward natural gas purchases and sales used to lock in economic margins compared to gains of $5 million for the same period of 2011. In the third quarter of 2011 there was also a $6 million write-down of natural gas inventory to the lower of average cost or market. Business results improved approximately $11 million primarily due to the termination of uneconomic transportation contracts and an increase in retail sales customers and volumes.

The operating loss for the nine months ended September 30, 2012, was $10 million, excluding the $252 million goodwill impairment charge, compared to operating income of $3 million for the same period of 2011. The results for the nine months ended September 30, 2012, included charges of $14 million compared to gains of $8 million for the same period of 2011 resulting from mark-to-market accounting. The nine months ended September 30, 2012, also included a $4 million write-down of natural gas inventory to the lower of average cost or market compared to a $6 million write-down in the same period of 2011.

Goodwill Impairment

As part of the company’s annual goodwill impairment test, a $252 million goodwill impairment charge associated with the competitive natural gas sales and services segment was recorded in the third quarter of 2012. Adverse wholesale market conditions facing this segment, specifically the prospects for continued low geographic and seasonal price differentials, led to a reduction in the estimate of the fair value of goodwill associated with this business unit. No other business unit required a goodwill impairment charge.

Dividend Declaration

On October 24, 2012, CenterPoint Energy’s board of directors declared a regular quarterly cash dividend of $0.2025 per share of common stock payable on December 10, 2012, to shareholders of record as of the close of business on November 16, 2012. 

Outlook for 2012

Excluding the effects of the gain associated with the acquisition of the additional 50 percent interest in Waskom and the goodwill impairment charge, CenterPoint Energy reaffirms its 2012 earnings guidance of $1.13 to $1.23 per diluted share. This guidance takes into consideration performance to date and various economic and operational assumptions related to the business segments in which the company operates. Significant variables that may impact results include commodity prices, throughput volume, weather, regulatory proceedings, effective tax rates and financing activities. In providing this guidance, the company does not include the impact of any changes in accounting standards, significant future acquisitions or divestitures, the change in the value of Time Warner stocks and the related ZENS securities, or the timing effects of mark-to-market and inventory accounting in the company’s competitive natural gas sales and services business.

Filing of Form 10-Q for CenterPoint Energy, Inc.

Today, CenterPoint Energy, Inc. filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) its Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q for the period ended September 30, 2012. A copy of that report is available on the company’s website, under the Investors section. Other filings the company makes with the SEC and other documents relating to its corporate governance can also be found on that site.

Webcast of Earnings Conference Call

CenterPoint Energy’s management will host an earnings conference call on Wednesday, November 7, 2012, at 10:30 a.m. Central time or 11:30 a.m. Eastern time. Interested parties may listen to a live audio broadcast of the conference call on the company’s website, under the Investors section. A replay of the call can be accessed approximately two hours after the completion of the call and will be archived on the website for at least one year.

CenterPoint Energy, Inc., headquartered in Houston, Texas, is a domestic energy delivery company that includes electric transmission & distribution, natural gas distribution, competitive natural gas sales and services, interstate pipelines, and field services operations. The company serves more than five million metered customers primarily in Arkansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Texas. Assets total more than $22 billion. With over 8,800 employees, CenterPoint Energy and its predecessor companies have been in business for more than 135 years. For more information, visit the company’s website at CenterPointEnergy.com.

This news release includes forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Actual events and results may differ materially from those expressed or implied by these forward-looking statements. The statements in this news release regarding the company’s earnings outlook for 2012 and future financial performance and results of operations, and any other statements that are not historical facts are forward-looking statements. Each forward-looking statement contained in this news release speaks only as of the date of this release. Factors that could affect actual results include (1) state and federal legislative and regulatory actions or developments affecting various aspects of CenterPoint Energy’s businesses, including, among others, energy deregulation or re-regulation, pipeline integrity and safety, health care reform, financial reform and tax legislation, and actions regarding the rates charged by CenterPoint Energy’s regulated businesses; (2) state and federal legislative and regulatory actions or developments relating to the environment, including those related to global climate change; (3) timely and appropriate rate actions that allow recovery of costs and a reasonable return on investment; (4) the timing and outcome of any audits, disputes or other proceedings related to taxes; (5) problems with construction, implementation of necessary technology or other issues with respect to major capital projects that result in delays or in cost overruns that cannot be recouped in rates; (6) industrial, commercial and residential growth in CenterPoint Energy’s service territories and changes in market demand, including the effects of energy efficiency measures and demographic patterns; (7) the timing and extent of changes in commodity prices, particularly natural gas and natural gas liquids, the competitive effects of excess pipeline capacity in the regions we serve, and the effects of geographic and seasonal commodity price differentials, including the effects of these circumstances on re-contracting available capacity on CenterPoint Energy’s interstate pipelines; (8) the timing and extent of changes in the supply of natural gas, particularly supplies available for gathering by CenterPoint Energy’s field services business and transporting by its interstate pipelines, including the impact of natural gas and natural gas liquids prices on the level of drilling and production activities in the regions served by CenterPoint Energy; (9) competition in CenterPoint Energy’s mid-continent region footprint for access to natural gas supplies and markets; (10) weather variations and other natural phenomena; (11) any direct or indirect effects on CenterPoint Energy’s facilities, operations and financial condition resulting from terrorism, cyber-attacks, data security breaches or other attempts to disrupt its businesses or the businesses of third parties, or other catastrophic events; (12) the impact of unplanned facility outages; (13) timely and appropriate regulatory actions allowing securitization or other recovery of costs associated with any future hurricanes or natural disasters; (14) changes in interest rates or rates of inflation; (15) commercial bank and financial market conditions, CenterPoint Energy’s access to capital, the cost of such capital, and the results of its financing and refinancing efforts, including availability of funds in the debt capital markets; (16) actions by credit rating agencies; (17) effectiveness of CenterPoint Energy’s risk management activities; (18) inability of various counterparties to meet their obligations; (19) non-payment for services due to financial distress of CenterPoint Energy’s customers; (20) the ability of GenOn Energy, Inc. (formerly known as RRI Energy, Inc.) and its subsidiaries to satisfy their obligations to CenterPoint Energy and its subsidiaries; (21) the ability of retail electric providers, and particularly the two largest customers of the TDU, to satisfy their obligations to CenterPoint Energy and its subsidiaries; (22) the outcome of litigation brought by or against CenterPoint Energy or its subsidiaries; (23) CenterPoint Energy’s ability to control costs; (24) the investment performance of pension and postretirement benefit plans; (25) potential business strategies, including restructurings, acquisitions or dispositions of assets or businesses; (26) acquisition and merger activities involving CenterPoint Energy or its competitors; and (27) other factors discussed under “Risk Factors” in CenterPoint Energy’s Annual Report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2011, as well as in CenterPoint Energy’s Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q for the quarters ended March 31, 2012, June 30, 2012, and September 30, 2012, and other reports CenterPoint Energy or its subsidiaries may file from time to time with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

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