Ameren Corporation (AEE), Large Cap AI Study of the Week

Ameren Corporation (AEE), Large Cap AI Study of the Week

January 9, 2024

Weekly AI Pick from the S&P 500

Ameren Corporation (AEE)

Company Overview

Ameren Corp, based in St. Louis, Missouri, is a utility holding company with key subsidiaries including Ameren Missouri, Ameren Illinois, and ATXI, which manage rate-regulated electric, natural gas, and electric transmission businesses, respectively. The company operates across four segments: Ameren Missouri, Ameren Illinois Electric Distribution, Ameren Illinois Natural Gas, and Ameren Transmission. Ameren's revenues and dividends are derived from these subsidiaries, with rates set by various governmental entities, influencing the company's financial health.

Ameren must comply with numerous regulations such as those from the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC), and federal agencies that oversee the operation of its facilities like the Callaway Energy Center. The company is also focused on environmental stewardship, adhering to evolving environmental statutes and participating in the power markets through MISO. Ameren is planning to expand its renewable and natural gas-fired generation by 2040, pending regulatory approvals. It is also preparing for the early retirement of the Rush Island Energy Center and exploring diverse energy sources, including renewables, natural gas, and energy storage, while complying with state mandates for solar rebates and net metering.

Ameren Illinois operates in a semi-deregulated market, serving as the provider of last resort, and has filed a multi-year plan for grid modernization in line with Illinois' renewable goals. The company's power generation mix includes coal, nuclear, natural gas, and renewable sources, with Ameren Missouri and Ameren Illinois meeting their renewable energy portfolio requirements for 2022. Both subsidiaries manage natural gas supply chains, utilizing hedging strategies to stabilize prices, with details available in their financial report. Ameren is also committed to human capital management, fostering a culture of safety, integrity, and inclusion, and promoting diversity within its workforce.

 By the Numbers

Annual 10-K Report Summary:

  • Ameren Missouri's investment plan: $9.9 billion over five years.
  • Requested revenue increase for Ameren Missouri: $316 million.
  • Missouri Senate Bill 745 caps annual electric service revenue increases at 2.5% from 2024.
  • Ameren Illinois Multi-Year Rate Plan (MYRP) starting revenue requirement for 2024: $1.282 billion.
  • Ameren Illinois rate base beginning at 2024: $4.3 billion.
  • Approved rate increase for Ameren Illinois electric distribution service in 2023: $61 million.
  • Approved increase for energy-efficiency rates in 2023: $76 million.
  • Annual energy efficiency investments through 2025: $120 million.
  • MISO projects selected for Ameren Corp: approximately $1.8 billion.
  • Quarterly common stock dividend increase from February 2022 to February 2023: from 59 cents to 63 cents per share.
  • Net income for 2022: $1,074 million ($4.14 per diluted share), up from $990 million ($3.84 per diluted share) in 2021.
  • Available liquidity as of December 31, 2022: $1.5 billion.
  • Planned capital expenditures from 2023 to 2027: between $18.9 billion and $20.5 billion.
  • Renewable generation investments included in capital expenditures: $2.5 billion.
  • Total electric revenues for 2022: $6,581 million, up from $5,297 million in 2021.
  • Total natural gas revenues for 2022: $1,376 million, up from $1,097 million in 2021.

Quarterly 10-Q Report Summary:

  • Net income for the three-month period ending September 30, 2023: $493 million ($1.87 per diluted share).
  • Net income for the nine-month period ending September 30, 2023: $994 million ($3.78 per diluted share).
  • Ameren Missouri's increased annual revenue requirement for electric retail service: $140 million.
  • Ameren's investment in rate-regulated businesses for the first nine months of 2023: $2.6 billion.
  • Ameren Illinois's requested increase in annual revenues for natural gas delivery service: $140 million.
  • Ameren Illinois MYRP projected revenue requirement increase from 2024 to 2027: from $1,289 million to $1,556 million.
  • Ameren's 2023 tax rate: 26%.
  • Electric revenues for the three-month period of 2023: $1,921 million.
  • Electric net income for the three-month period of 2023: $494 million.
  • Electric revenues for the nine-month period of 2023: $5,096 million.
  • Electric net income for the nine-month period of 2023: $998 million.
  • Natural gas revenues for the three-month period of 2023: $139 million.
  • Natural gas net income for the three-month period of 2023: $109 million.
  • Natural gas revenues for the nine-month period of 2023: $786 million.
  • Natural gas net margins for the nine-month period of 2023: $506 million.
  • Increase in electric margins for the quarter in 2023: $31 million.
  • Increase in electric margins year-to-date in 2023: $41 million.
  • Increase in natural gas margins for the quarter in 2023: $1 million.
  • Decrease in natural gas margins year-to-date in 2023: $3 million.
  • Increase in Ameren Illinois transmission margins for the quarter in 2023: $19 million.
  • Increase in Ameren Illinois transmission margins year-to-date in 2023: $43 million.

Stock Performance and Technical Analysis

As a stock analyst examining the technical indicators for the given stock, there are several important factors to consider. The current stock price is slightly above its 52-week low by 4 percent, suggesting that the stock might be stabilizing after a period of decline or experiencing a modest rebound. However, the fact that it is 18 percent below its 52-week high indicates that the stock has been in a downtrend from its peak, which could be a concern for potential investors looking for upward momentum.

The recent trading volume is substantially higher than the longer-term average, with 2,589,840 shares traded per day compared to the average of 1,532,855.2 shares. This increase in volume could indicate heightened investor interest or volatility, which can often precede a significant price move. However, the direction of that potential move is not clear solely from volume data. The price decline of approximately 5.94% in the last month, combined with relative stability over the last three months, suggests that the stock might be consolidating after a period of selling pressure.

Money flow indicators offer mixed signals. Moderate buying pressure suggests that there is some accumulation happening, but the mention of distribution indicates that some investors are selling their shares. This could reflect a market divided on the stock's future direction. The Moving Average Convergence Divergence (MACD) being bearish at -1.12 reinforces the notion of a negative trend, as this momentum indicator suggests that the short-term price trend is weaker than the long-term trend, typically a bearish signal.

In conclusion, the technical analysis presents a stock that is potentially at a crossroads, with both bearish and bullish signals. The price being closer to the 52-week low could offer a buying opportunity if one believes the stock has bottomed out, but the bearish MACD and the stock's recent performance may deter investors looking for immediate upward trends. As with any investment decision, it's crucial to balance these technical indicators with fundamental analysis and broader market trends before reaching a conclusion on whether to invest in the company.


The ‘Bull’ Perspective

Title: Ameren Corporation: A Sparkling Opportunity in the Utilities Sector

Upfront Summary:

  1. Robust Financial Performance: Ameren Corporation's recent financial results show a strong uptick in net income, reaching $493 million in Q3 2023, marking a significant year-over-year increase.
  2. Strategic Investments Fueling Growth: Ameren is making calculated investments in infrastructure and renewable energy, with a $9.9 billion plan over five years, aimed at enhancing electric infrastructure and supporting renewable energy integration.
  3. Regulatory Environment and Rate Adjustments: Despite a regulatory environment that presents risks, Ameren has successfully navigated rate adjustments, as evidenced by the $140 million annual revenue increase approved for Ameren Missouri.
  4. Commitment to Sustainable Energy: Ameren's commitment to achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2045 aligns with global sustainability trends, potentially unlocking future growth avenues and regulatory incentives.
  5. Resilient Amidst Economic Uncertainties: With a diversified energy mix and strategic cost management, Ameren shows resilience against economic downturns, inflationary pressures, and the current recalibration of Fed rate expectations.

Elaboration on Key Points:

  1. Robust Financial Performance:
    Ameren Corporation's financial health is a beacon of stability in the volatile stock market. The company's net income for Q3 2023 soared to $493 million, translating to $1.87 per diluted share, showcasing a substantial improvement from the previous year. Over nine months, net income ascended to $994 million, or $3.78 per diluted share, underscoring Ameren's capacity to elevate its financial standing despite broader economic challenges. These numbers reflect the company's adeptness in managing its rate-regulated business model and capitalizing on increased rate base investments and higher recognized ROE at Ameren Illinois Electric Distribution.
  2. Strategic Investments Fueling Growth:
    Ameren's forward-thinking investment strategy is a cornerstone of its growth narrative. The company has earmarked a staggering $9.9 billion for enhancing its electric infrastructure and advancing renewable energy integration over the next five years. This plan includes the pursuit of new solar generation facilities, with regulatory decisions anticipated in early 2024. Ameren's proactive approach to infrastructure improvement not only positions it for long-term growth but also aligns with the increasing demand for clean energy solutions, a critical factor for investors eyeing sustainability.
  3. Regulatory Environment and Rate Adjustments:
    Navigating the complex regulatory waters, Ameren has displayed adeptness in securing favorable rate adjustments. The MoPSC's order granting Ameren Missouri a $140 million increase in annual revenue requirement for electric retail service is a testament to the company's regulatory acumen. While the regulatory environment poses inherent risks, such as the potential impact of the MYRP on Ameren Illinois and the QIP program's expiration, Ameren's track record suggests a strategic capability to manage these challenges effectively, mitigating risks for investors.
  4. Commitment to Sustainable Energy:
    Ameren's pledge to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2045 is not merely aspirational but a strategic maneuver aligning with global energy trends. This commitment could potentially open doors to regulatory incentives and align the company with investor preferences for environmentally responsible investments. Ameren's planned closure of gas-fired plants by 2040 and the transition to renewable energy sources demonstrate a forward-thinking approach that may offer long-term stability and growth as the world shifts towards sustainable energy.
  5. Resilient Amidst Economic Uncertainties:
    In the face of economic headwinds, including inflationary pressures and fluctuating interest rates, Ameren has showcased remarkable resilience. The company's diversified energy mix and strategic cost management practices have allowed it to weather the storm of rising costs and interest rates. As the Federal Reserve signals a potential easing of monetary policy later in 2024, Ameren's stable financial performance and strategic planning position it to capitalize on the ensuing market conditions, potentially offering a buffer against temporary market volatility and a buying opportunity for discerning investors.

Ameren Corporation embodies a compelling investment case within the utilities sector. With its robust financial results, strategic growth investments, adept navigation of the regulatory landscape, commitment to sustainability, and resilience in the face of economic uncertainties, Ameren is poised for continued success. Investors seeking a stable yet progressive addition to their portfolios would be wise to consider the potential that Ameren offers as it charges ahead in the dynamic energy market.

The ‘Bear’ Perspective

Title: A Prudent Pause: The Case for Caution on Ameren Corporation Stock


  1. Regulatory Cap Constraints: Ameren faces significant regulatory risks which could limit the company's ability to recover costs and impact its Return on Equity (ROE).
  2. Environmental Compliance Costs: Stringent environmental regulations and potential litigation could lead to increased expenses and forced plant closures.
  3. Transition Uncertainties: The company's commitment to transitioning to renewable energy is fraught with regulatory and technological uncertainties.
  4. Operational and Supply Risks: Operational challenges and coal supply issues pose risks to Ameren's consistent service delivery and financial stability.
  5. Market Conditions and Economic Pressures: The broader economic environment, including interest rate hikes and inflation, may dampen Ameren's financial performance.


  1. Regulatory Cap Constraints:
    Ameren's financial health is closely tied to regulatory decisions that determine its rates and ROE. The Illinois-based utility's rates are set through a Multi-Year Rate Plan (MYRP) that includes a rate cap, potentially restricting the company's ability to recover costs from customers. With the Qualified Infrastructure Plant (QIP) program set to expire in December 2023, there is a looming risk that future investments may not be as readily recoverable. In addition, Ameren Illinois' ROE is linked to the yields of U.S. Treasury bonds, which are subject to market volatility. Any inability to meet performance standards could lead to a reduction in ROE, thereby affecting the company's profitability. The regulatory cap constraints are a red flag for investors, as they can lead to a situation where Ameren might struggle to maintain its financial momentum.
  2. Environmental Compliance Costs:
    Ameren's reliance on coal and the necessity to comply with environmental regulations can lead to significant financial strain. The company is embroiled in a federal lawsuit for alleged Clean Air Act violations, which could result in hefty fines and necessitate expensive modifications to facilities. Moreover, the recent Supreme Court decision limiting the EPA's regulatory authority adds to the uncertainty regarding future compliance costs and investment recovery for coal plants. With Ameren's plans to shut down gas-fired plants by 2040, the company faces the risk of unrecoverable compliance costs, which could negatively impact customer rates and lead to asset impairments. These environmental compliance costs are a substantial concern, as they represent an ongoing and potentially escalating financial burden.
  3. Transition Uncertainties:
    Ameren's ambitious goal to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2045 and its planned $20.5 billion investment in infrastructure between 2023 and 2027 are not without risks. The transition to renewable energy sources depends on technological advancements and favorable regulatory actions, both of which are unpredictable. Delays or denials in regulatory approvals could derail or inflate the costs of Ameren's renewable energy projects. The company's financial commitment to this transition could be jeopardized if the anticipated support mechanisms, such as government subsidies or incentives, fail to materialize. These uncertainties surrounding Ameren's green transition could lead to financial instability and are a cause for investor caution.
  4. Operational and Supply Risks:
    Operational risks, including equipment failures, labor disputes, environmental events, and cybersecurity threats, can disrupt Ameren's services and lead to unexpected costs. The company's coal supply for Ameren Missouri, in particular, is vulnerable to rail congestion and supplier issues. With inventory levels below targets, there is a risk of supply shortages that could impede operations and increase costs. Ameren Missouri also faces specific risks associated with operating a nuclear energy center, including the challenges of waste disposal and the inherent business and financial risks of nuclear energy. These operational and supply risks could adversely affect Ameren's operational efficiency and financial results.
  5. Market Conditions and Economic Pressures:
    The broader economic environment presents additional challenges for Ameren. With the Federal Reserve's interest rate decisions and the economic glidepath dictating market performance, there is a possibility of increased financing costs for Ameren. The company has already experienced higher financing costs due to rising interest rates, which can strain liquidity and increase the cost of capital. Inflationary pressures also pose a threat, as they may lead to higher operating expenses that cannot be fully passed on to customers. These market conditions and economic pressures could negatively impact Ameren's earnings and make the stock less attractive to investors.

In conclusion, while Ameren Corporation has shown a strong financial performance in recent quarters, the combination of regulatory constraints, environmental compliance costs, transition uncertainties, operational risks, and broader economic pressures present a compelling case for investors to exercise caution. The potential for these factors to adversely affect the company's financial stability and growth prospects warrants a conservative approach to investment decisions regarding Ameren's stock.