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Rating Action:

Moody's Changes Entergy's Outlook to Positive, Upgrades Entergy New Orleans to Ba1 and Assigns a Baa1 Issuer Rating to Entergy Louisiana Power

01 Oct 2015

New York, October 01, 2015 -- Moody's Investors Service, ("Moody's") upgraded the ratings of Entergy New Orleans (issuer rating to Ba1 from Ba2) and affirmed the ratings of Entergy Corporation (Baa3 senior unsecured and P-3 commercial paper) and Entergy Arkansas (EAI Baa2). Moody's also assigned a Baa1 issuer rating to Entergy Louisiana Power, LLC (ELP) and withdrew the ratings of Entergy Louisiana, LLC (ELL) and Entergy Gulf States Louisiana, LLC (EGSL). The outlook for Entergy Corp. was changed to positive from stable; the outlook for EAI remains positive; and the outlook for ELP is stable.

Upgrades:

..Issuer: Entergy New Orleans, Inc.

.... Issuer Rating, Upgraded to Ba1 from Ba2

....Pref. Stock Preferred Stock (Local Currency), Upgraded to Ba3 from B1

....Senior Secured First Mortgage Bonds (Local Currency), Upgraded to Baa2 from Baa3

Assignments:

..Issuer: Entergy Louisiana Power, LLC

.... Issuer Rating, Assigned Baa1

Outlook Actions:

..Issuer: Entergy Arkansas, Inc.

....Outlook, Remains Positive

..Issuer: Entergy Corporation

....Outlook, Changed To Positive From Stable

..Issuer: Entergy Gulf States Louisiana, LLC

....Outlook, Changed To Rating Withdrawn From Stable

..Issuer: Entergy Louisiana Power, LLC

....Outlook, Assigned Stable

..Issuer: Entergy Louisiana, LLC

....Outlook, Changed To Rating Withdrawn From Stable

..Issuer: Entergy Mississippi, Inc.

....Outlook, Remains Stable

..Issuer: Entergy New Orleans, Inc.

....Outlook, Changed To Stable From Positive

..Issuer: Entergy Texas, Inc.

....Outlook, Remains Stable

..Issuer: System Energy Resources, Inc.

....Outlook, Remains Stable

Affirmations:

..Issuer: Entergy Arkansas, Inc.

.... Issuer Rating, Affirmed Baa2

....Pref. Stock Preferred Stock (Local Currency), Affirmed Ba1

....Pref. Stock Shelf (Local Currency), Affirmed (P)Ba1

....Senior Secured First Mortgage Bonds (Local Currency), Affirmed A3

....Senior Secured Shelf (Local Currency), Affirmed (P)A3

..Issuer: Entergy Corporation

.... Issuer Rating (Local Currency), Affirmed Baa3

....Senior Unsecured Commercial Paper (Local Currency), Affirmed P-3

....Senior Unsecured Regular Bond/Debenture (Local Currency), Affirmed Baa3

....Senior Unsecured Shelf (Local Currency) Aug 29, 2016, Affirmed (P)Baa3

..Issuer: Entergy Mississippi, Inc.

.... Issuer Rating, Affirmed Baa2

....Pref. Stock Preferred Stock (Local Currency), Affirmed Ba1

....Senior Secured First Mortgage Bonds (Local Currency), Affirmed A3

..Issuer: Entergy Texas, Inc.

.... Issuer Rating (Local Currency), Affirmed Baa3

....Senior Secured First Mortgage Bonds (Local Currency) , Affirmed Baa1

....Senior Secured Shelf (Local Currency) Aug 29, 2016, Affirmed (P)Baa1

..Issuer: System Energy Resources, Inc.

....Senior Secured First Mortgage Bonds (Local Currency), Affirmed Baa1

Withdrawals:

..Issuer: Entergy Gulf States Louisiana, LLC

.... Issuer Rating, Withdrawn , previously rated Baa1

....Multiple Seniority Shelf (Local Currency), Withdrawn , previously rated (P)Baa3

....Preference Stock Preference Stock (Local Currency), Withdrawn , previously rated Baa3

....Senior Secured First Mortgage Bonds (Local Currency), Withdrawn , previously rated A2

....Senior Secured Shelf (Local Currency) Aug 29, 2016, Withdrawn , previously rated (P)A2

..Issuer: Entergy Louisiana, LLC

.... Issuer Rating, Withdrawn , previously rated Baa1

....Pref. Stock Preferred Stock (Local Currency), Withdrawn , previously rated Baa3

....Senior Secured First Mortgage Bonds (Local Currency), Withdrawn , previously rated A2

....Senior Secured Shelf (Local Currency) Aug 29, 2016, Withdrawn , previously rated (P)A2

....Senior Unsecured Regular Bond/Debenture (Local Currency) Jan 2, 2017, Withdrawn , previously rated Baa1

RATINGS RATIONALE

"Entergy's positive outlook reflects an improving utility segment that can better support a struggling merchant nuclear fleet and holding company leverage" said Ryan Wobbrock, Assistant Vice President. Entergy's utility segment is benefiting from formula rate making for five of its six rated subsidiaries, a growing rate base in New Orleans and the streamlining of its Louisiana utilities into one new organization. While Entergy's primary credit constraints remain the declining margins across its merchant generation fleet and the potential for nuclear plant closures to further erode value, "The increasing utility cash flow contribution, underpinned by formula rate making, will strengthen Entergy's financial profile versus other hybrid peers and provide some cushion for possible reactor shut-downs in the future" added Wobbrock.

Roughly 80% of Entergy's business profile consists of regulated utilities in supportive regulatory jurisdictions, which provide stable and predictable cash flow under formulaic rate plans (FRPs). This compares favorably to other holding companies with merchant nuclear exposure, like Exelon Corporation (Baa2 stable), currently 50% regulated, and Public Service Enterprise Group Inc. ((P)Baa2 positive), about 60% regulated. At the same time, Entergy exhibits a stronger financial profile than most hybrid peers that also have a strong regulated base. For example, Entergy has roughly 24% holding company debt, which is much less than the 40% range that exists for hybrid parents like NextEra Energy (Baa1 stable) and Sempra Energy (Baa1 stable) and Entergy's 2011-2014 cash flow to debt metrics are above 20% compared to companies like Dominion Resources (Baa2 stable) and FirstEnergy Corp. (Baa3 stable), which have produced 15% and 11%, respectively.

The upgrade of Entergy New Orleans reflects the recent transfer of around 22,500 electric customers in Algiers from ELL, and our expectation that the acquisition of a combined cycle natural gas generation plant (i.e., Union Power Plant, Block 1 -- approximately 495 MW) will close by year-end. These additions to ENOI's regulatory footprint will help maintain strong financial metrics while increasing the utility's size, scale and scope. We note that ENOI's high exposure to storm-related events constrains the company's issuer rating from an investment grade credit profile.

The withdrawal of ratings for ELL and EGSL is due to the long-expected combination of the two companies into ELP, which we expect to be consummated shortly. The assignment of a Baa1 issuer rating to ELP is consistent with the previous ratings of its constituent parts (i.e., both ELL and EGSL were rated Baa1 stable), and reflects the strong regulatory support provided by formula rate making in Louisiana and a financial profile that is expected to produce over 20% cash flow to debt metrics going forward.

The ratings affirmation for EAI and the maintenance of a positive outlook reflects the potential for the implementation of formula ratemaking in Arkansas, following a March 2015 legislative action that allows for that type of rate design in the state. On 29 September, the Arkansas Public Service Commission (APSC) staff recommended to approve the FRP for EAI, a positive development; however, it is the APSC which will ultimately decide whether the new rate design is allowed. The implementation of the FRP would be credit positive for EAI and could lead to positive rating action. We expect that the first FRP filing would occur around July 2016 with rates to be effective January 2017.

What Could Change the Rating -- Up

Entergy's rating could be upgraded if there were further regulatory support provided in any of its jurisdictions, reduced exposure to unregulated generation, or power market fundamentals were to exhibit sustained improvement and support for its unregulated fleet performance.

For ENOI, it is unlikely that its issuer rating will be upgraded to Baa3, due to its concentrated service territory in a storm-prone area.

ELP's rating could be upgraded if cash flow to debt metrics were to increase above 22% on a sustainable basis, without the one-time benefits of tax related policies.

Entergy Arkansas' ratings could be considered for upgrade if there are further improvements in the regulatory rate design, or if cash flow coverage metrics including CFO pre-WC to debt above the high-teens, on a sustainable basis.

What Could Change the Rating - Down

Entergy's rating could be lowered if there were an increase in the aggregate level of debt at the parent company, if any of the nuclear reactors were to experience a sharp increase in costs, if liquidity were to materially decline, or if the company's consolidated cash flow coverage metrics were to deteriorate significantly for an extended period, including CFO pre-WC to debt in the mid-teens. Also, if regulatory support of the utility segment were to decline or become less predictable, Entergy's ratings could be downgraded.

The ratings of ENOI could be downgraded if a major adverse regulatory decision were to emerge, if its service territory were seriously affected by another major storm, or if there were a sustained decline in financial metrics including CFO pre-WC to debt below the mid-teens range.

ELP's ratings could be lowered if there were a more contentious regulatory environment in Louisiana, if significant storm costs were not recovered on a timely basis, or if CFO pre-WC to debt declined towards the mid-teen's range for an extended period of time.

EAI's rating could be downgraded if there were a series of adverse regulatory developments which causes key financial metrics to decline including CFO pre WC to debt below the mid-teens for a sustainable period of time.

The principal methodology used in these ratings was Regulated Electric and Gas Utilities published in December 2013. Please see the Credit Policy page on www.moodys.com for a copy of this methodology.

REGULATORY DISCLOSURES

For ratings issued on a program, series or category/class of debt, this announcement provides certain regulatory disclosures in relation to each rating of a subsequently issued bond or note of the same series or category/class of debt or pursuant to a program for which the ratings are derived exclusively from existing ratings in accordance with Moody's rating practices. For ratings issued on a support provider, this announcement provides certain regulatory disclosures in relation to the rating action on the support provider and in relation to each particular rating action for securities that derive their credit ratings from the support provider's credit rating. For provisional ratings, this announcement provides certain regulatory disclosures in relation to the provisional rating assigned, and in relation to a definitive rating that may be assigned subsequent to the final issuance of the debt, in each case where the transaction structure and terms have not changed prior to the assignment of the definitive rating in a manner that would have affected the rating. For further information please see the ratings tab on the issuer/entity page for the respective issuer on www.moodys.com.

For any affected securities or rated entities receiving direct credit support from the primary entity(ies) of this rating action, and whose ratings may change as a result of this rating action, the associated regulatory disclosures will be those of the guarantor entity. Exceptions to this approach exist for the following disclosures, if applicable to jurisdiction: Ancillary Services, Disclosure to rated entity, Disclosure from rated entity.

Regulatory disclosures contained in this press release apply to the credit rating and, if applicable, the related rating outlook or rating review.

Please see www.moodys.com for any updates on changes to the lead rating analyst and to the Moody's legal entity that has issued the rating.

Please see the ratings tab on the issuer/entity page on www.moodys.com for additional regulatory disclosures for each credit rating.

Ryan Wobbrock
Asst Vice President - Analyst
Corporate Finance Group
Moody's Investors Service, Inc.
250 Greenwich Street
New York, NY 10007
U.S.A.
JOURNALISTS: 212-553-0376
SUBSCRIBERS: 212-553-1653

William L. Hess
MD - Utilities
Corporate Finance Group
JOURNALISTS: 212-553-0376
SUBSCRIBERS: 212-553-1653

Releasing Office:
Moody's Investors Service, Inc.
250 Greenwich Street
New York, NY 10007
U.S.A.
JOURNALISTS: 212-553-0376
SUBSCRIBERS: 212-553-1653

Moody's Changes Entergy's Outlook to Positive, Upgrades Entergy New Orleans to Ba1 and Assigns a Baa1 Issuer Rating to Entergy Louisiana Power
No Related Data.
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