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Avista hikes 2019 earnings guidance, capex at utility subsidiary

Avista Corp. raised full-year 2019 earnings guidance primarily due to an approximately $2.3 million gain from the company's divestment of Advanced Manufacturing And Development Inc., also known as METALfx.

"Typically, we don't include those in guidance until they are known and included in our results, and that occurred in the second quarter," CFO Mark Thies said during the company's Aug. 7 earnings conference call.

A subsidiary of Avista sold METALfx to Scottsdale, Ariz.-based private equity group Montage Partners Inc. in a deal that closed April 18. METALfx provides precision sheet metal fabrications, enclosures and assemblies.

Avista then increased its 2019 earnings guidance by 5 cents per diluted share to a consolidated range of $2.83 to $3.03 per diluted share. The guidance also includes $1.01 per diluted share for the termination fee received from Hydro One Ltd. in the first quarter, partially offset by the payment of remaining transaction costs.

The company also plans to increase capital investment at Avista Utilities Inc. by an additional $30 million to $435 million in 2019, primarily related renewable integration and customer growth.

Avista has $212 million of available liquidity as of June 30. It expects to issue about $180 million of long-term debt and up to $65 million of equity in 2019 to refinance maturing long-term debt, fund planned capital expenditures and maintain an appropriate capital structure.

On the regulatory front, Avista reached a settlement related to its natural gas general rate case in Oregon and expects to file the agreement with state regulators in August. Rate cases in Idaho, Washington and Oregon are expected to provide rate relief in early 2020, cutting back on some of the regulatory lag Avista has experienced, management said.

For the second quarter of 2019, the company posted net income attributable to shareholders of $25.3 million, or 38 cents per share, compared to $25.6 million, or 39 cents per share, in the corresponding quarter of 2018.