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TransAlta Reports Fourth Quarter and Full Year 2013 Results, 2014 Outlook, Asset Sale, and Revised Dividend

CALGARY, ALBERTA -- (Marketwired) -- 02/20/14 -- TransAlta Corporation ("TransAlta") (TSX:TA)(NYSE:TAC) today reported its fourth quarter 2013 and full year 2013 financial results, its outlook for 2014 and two significant initiatives to enhance the Corporation's financial strength to grow, provide a solid and sustainable dividend, and to ensure a strong balance sheet throughout the commodity cycle.

Comparable EBITDA(1) for the full year ending Dec. 31, 2013 was $1,023 million, an increase of $8 million from 2012. Strong performance in gas, renewables, and trading, more than offset the lower pricing in the Pacific Northwest and higher unplanned outages at Canadian Coal. Free Cash Flow(1) for the full year ending Dec. 31, 2013 increased by $37 million to $295 million, or $1.12 per share. Comparable EBITDA for the fourth quarter 2013 was $242 million compared to $312 million during the same period last year. Results were lower than last year due to lower prices in Alberta and the Pacific Northwest, icing events in Eastern Canada that impacted our wind results, and higher unplanned outages in Canadian Coal.

Comparable net earnings for the full year ending Dec. 31, 2013 were $81 million, or $0.31 per share. A reported net loss of $71 million ($0.27 per share) was recorded for the full year ending Dec. 31, 2013 due to a number of one-time items and the impact of certain de-designated and ineffective hedges. Comparable net earnings and reported net loss for the three months ending Dec. 31, 2013 were $1 million and $66 million, respectively.

Over the past five years, TransAlta has invested a large amount of capital in growth projects in our core markets which is a key part of our strategy. To enhance our ability to continue to execute on our growth strategy and be competitive, TransAlta also announced today two key initiatives: the sale of our 50 per cent interest in CE Generation, Blackrock development and Wailuku to our partner in these holdings, MidAmerican Renewables for U.S.$193.5 million and the resizing of our dividend to an annualized amount of $0.72 per common share to align with our growth and financial objectives. These initiatives, combined with actions we have taken since late 2012, will enhance the Corporation's ability to execute its growth strategy, maintain a strong balance sheet and create shareholder value. Specifically, these two initiatives deliver a number of key benefits to security holders, including:


--  Increasing cash flow per share 
--  Providing an attractive, sustainable dividend 
--  Improving the Corporation's credit metrics and balance sheet 
--  Generating an additional $120 million per year in free cash flow 
--  Creating a stronger financial base for growing TransAlta and maintaining
    a strong balance sheet throughout the commodity cycle

"Our growth strategy is unchanged and our ability to execute is enhanced through these two additional initiatives," said Dawn Farrell, President and CEO. "An attractive, sustainable dividend continues to be an important part of our approach to delivering value to shareholders. In addition, a strong investment grade balance sheet is critical for enhancing our ability to compete for growth opportunities."

2014 Outlook

TransAlta expects comparable EBITDA for 2014 to be in the range of $1,015 and $1,065 million based on the current outlook for power prices in Alberta and the Pacific Northwest. Free Cash Flow is expected to be in the range of $293 to $343 million, or $1.07 and $1.26 per share, based on sustaining capital expenditures of approximately $350 million. With the revised dividend, our expected dividend is 57 per cent to 67 per cent of Free Cash Flow.

Recent Strategic Accomplishments


--  Announced sale of CE Generation, Blackrock development and Wailuku to
    MidAmerican Renewables 
--  The TAMA Transmission partnership between TransAlta and MidAmerican
    Transmission successfully qualified to compete in the next phase of the
    competitive bid process within Alberta for the Fort McMurray West 500 kV
    Transmission Project. 
--  Established the Fortescue River Gas Pipeline joint venture to build and
    own a $178 million natural gas pipeline in Western Australia to better
    serve our customers within that region. TransAlta's interest in the
    joint venture is 43 per cent. 
--  Concluded a long-term contract extension with BHP Billiton's Nickel West
    operations in Western Australia for 245 MW. 
--  Completed the acquisition of TransAlta's first wind project in the
    United States. An economic interest in the 144 MW wind farm in Wyoming
    was purchased by TransAlta's majority owned subsidiary, TransAlta
    Renewables Inc. ("TransAlta Renewables"). 
--  Formation of TransAlta Renewables. a sponsored vehicle by TransAlta. The
    29 facilities within TransAlta Renewables are fully operational and 100
    per cent contracted.  
--  Executed 24-year contract with the City of Riverside in California for
    86 MW at CalEnergy LLC. 
--  Executed 24-year contract with Salt River Project in Arizona for 50 MW
    at CalEnergy LLC. 
--  Executed a 20-year contract with the Ontario Power Authority for 74 MW
    from the Ottawa Gas Facility.

Q4 2013 compared to Q4 2012


--  Comparable EBITDA of $242 million down from $312 million for the same
    period last year 
--  Funds from Operations of $179 million down from $214 million for the
    same period last year 
--  Free Cash Flow of $61 million down from $74 million in 2012 
--  Availability of 91.8 per cent

Full year 2013 compared to full year 2012


--  Comparable EBITDA of $1,023 million up from $1,015 million in 2012 
--  Funds from operations of $729 million down from $788 million in 2012 
--  Free cash flow of $295 million, an increase of $37 million from 2012 
--  Adjusted availability(2) of 87.8 per cent as compared to our annual
    target of 89 to 90 per cent. Lower availability is primarily attributed
    to the force majeure at Keephills Unit 1

Full Year Business Line Review by Segment

Generation


--  Canadian Coal: Comparable EBITDA decreased $64 million to $309 million
    compared to $373 million in 2012. The main impact to the business in
    2013 was increased unplanned outages compared to 2012 that could not be
    offset by lower planned outages. We also took over the Highvale Mine in
    2013 and expanded the mine to be able to deliver coal to all six
    Sundance units and all three Keephills units. Planned major maintenance
    for this business sector has returned to normal levels after a large
    capital program in 2012 was completed. 
--  U.S. Coal: Comparable EBITDA decreased $82 million to $66 million in
    2013 compared to $148 million in 2012. The decline in comparable EBITDA
    was primarily due to weak merchant pricing and the expiry of contracts.
    Fuel costs were lower in 2013 reflecting re-negotiated coal and rail
    costs. Capital was reduced significantly due to the long period of
    economic curtailment of these units under low prices. 
--  Gas: Comparable EBITDA increased $15 million to $327 million in 2013
    compared to $312 million in 2012 primarily due to a full year of income
    from the Solomon power plant that was acquired in late 2012 and stronger
    merchant pricing in our Alberta business. Capital expenditures in this
    business were up $9 million to $58 million compared to 2012. 
--  Wind: Comparable EBITDA increased $29 million to $180 million in 2013
    compared to $151 million in 2012 primarily due to higher prices in the
    Alberta market and the commencement of operations at the New Richmond
    facility in Quebec. 
--  Hydro: Comparable EBITDA increased $20 million to $147 million in 2013
    compared to $127 million in 2012 primarily due to favourable pricing in
    the Alberta market.

Energy Trading


--  Comparable EBITDA increased $74 million to $61 million in 2013 compared
    to a loss of $13 million in 2012 due to strong trading performance
    across all markets and prudent management of risk.

Corporate


--  OM&A expense decreased $16 million to $66 million in 2013 compared to
    $82 million in 2012 primarily due to lower compensation costs as a
    result of restructuring in the fourth quarter of 2012 and a continued
    focus on managing costs.

Full Year Consolidated Financial Review

Comparable EBITDA increased $8 million to $1,023 million in 2013 from $1,015 million for 2012, reflecting the higher gross margins in Gas, Wind, Hydro and Energy Trading, which more than offset higher unplanned outages in Canadian Coal and lower pricing within our U.S. Coal business.

Despite higher comparable EBITDA, Funds from Operations for the year decreased $59 million to $729 million from $788 million for the same period last year primarily due to higher interest expenses and cash taxes, and differences in timing of cash proceeds associated with power hedges and coal inventories.

Free Cash Flow increased $37 million to $295 million in 2013 from $258 million in 2012 primarily due to lower sustaining capital expenditures associated with fewer planned outages in 2013 relative to 2012.

Comparable earnings for the year were $81 million ($0.31 per share) down from $117 million ($0.50 per share) in 2012. The decrease in comparable earnings is primarily due to an increase in depreciation and amortization, income taxes, and net interest, partially offset by an increase in comparable EBITDA.

A reported net loss of $71 million ($0.27 per share) was recorded for the year compared to a net loss of $615 million ($2.62 per share) last year. This year over year change is primarily driven by a decrease in asset impairment charges of $342 million, a decrease in costs associated with the return of Sundance Units 1 and 2 to service of $170 million, a decrease in the impact of write off of deferred income tax assets of $141 million partially offset by a provision of $42 million associated with a potential settlement related to California power markets during the 2000-2001 period.

Full Year Operating Review


--  Fleet availability, including finance leases and equity investments, was
    85.5 per cent compared to 88.4 per cent last year. Adjusting for
    economic dispatching at Centralia Thermal in our U.S. Coal business,
    availability was 87.8 per cent compared to 90.0 per cent in 2012. The
    decrease is mainly due to higher unplanned outages in our Canadian Coal
    business at the Alberta coal PPA facilities and the Keephills Unit 1
    force majeure outage, partially offset by lower planned outages at the
    Alberta coal facilities. 
--  We completed the four major outages scheduled for 2013. 
--  Total sustaining expenditures were $341 million for the year compared to
    $439 million last year. Sustaining expenditures fell within our target
    range of $295-$345 million for 2013. 

Significant Events

Sale of CE Generation

On Feb.20, 2014, we announced the sale of our 50 per cent interest in CE Generation, Blackrock development and Wailuku to our partner in these holdings, MidAmerican Renewables for a price of U.S. $193.5 million.

Revised Dividend

On Feb. 20, 2014, our Board of Directors declared a quarterly dividend of $0.18 per common share (or $0.72 per common share on an annualized basis).

Sundance Unit 6 Agreement

On Feb. 19, 2014, we reached an agreement with the PPA Buyer related to the dispute on Sundance Unit 6. We don't expect any material impact to the financial statements as a result of the agreement.

Wyoming Wind Acquisition

On Dec. 20, 2013, we completed the acquisition, through one of our wholly owned subsidiaries, of a 144 MW wind farm in Wyoming for approximately U.S.$102 million from an affiliate of NextEra Energy Resources, LLC. The wind farm is fully operational and contracted under a long-term PPA until 2028 with an investment grade counterparty. An economic interest in the wind farm was acquired by TransAlta Renewables from TransAlta in consideration for a payment equal to the original purchase price of the acquisition.

Western Australia Contract Extension

On Oct. 30, 2013, we announced a long-term contract extension to supply power to the BHP Billiton Nickel West operations in Western Australia from our Southern Cross Energy facilities ("Southern Cross"). The extension is effective immediately and replaces the previous contract which was set to expire at the beginning of 2014.

Operating since 1996, Southern Cross has a total installed capacity of 245 MW from the Kambalda, Mt. Keith, Leinster, and Kalgoorlie power stations.

Ottawa Facility's Long-term Contract with Ontario Power Authority

On Aug. 30, 2013, we announced the execution of an agreement for a 20-year power supply term with the Ontario Power Authority for our Ottawa gas facility, effective January 2014. Under the new deal, the plant has become dispatchable. This will assist in reducing the incidents of surplus baseload generation in the market, while maintaining the ability of the system to reliably produce energy when it is needed.

This new contract will benefit our shareholders by providing long-term stable earnings from this facility and is also expected to benefit ratepayers of Ontario by securing attractively priced capacity from this existing facility, reducing the need for new capacity to be built in the future and allowing hospitals in the area to continue to be served with the steam they need for heat and other energy processes, in an environmentally friendly manner.

TransAlta Renewables

On Aug. 9, 2013, we transferred 28 indirectly owned wind and hydroelectric generating assets to TransAlta Renewables through the sale of all the issued and outstanding shares of two subsidiaries: Canadian Hydro Developers, Inc. and Western Sustainable Power Inc. The initial public offering resulted in an aggregate of 22.1 million common shares being issued for gross proceeds to TransAlta Renewables of $221 million. TransAlta, directly and indirectly, holds 92.6 million common shares, representing approximately 80.7 per cent of the common shares in TransAlta Renewables.

Sundance Units 1 and 2 Return to Service

In December 2010, Units 1 and 2 of our Sundance facility were shut down due to conditions observed in the boilers at both units. On July 20, 2012, an arbitration panel concluded that Unit 1 and Unit 2 were not economically destroyed and required TransAlta to return these units to service. Unit 1 returned to service on Sept. 2, 2013 and Unit 2 returned to service on Oct. 4, 2013.

The following table depicts key financial results and statistical operating data:

Fourth Quarter and 12 Months Ended Dec. 31 2013 Highlights


----------------------------------------------------------------------------
                          3 months      3 months    12 months     12 months 
In $CAD millions,            ended         ended        ended         ended 
 unless otherwise     December 31,  December 31, December 31,  December 31, 
 stated                       2013          2012         2013          2012 
----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Adjusted availability                                                       
 (%)(2)                       91.8          89.4         87.8          90.0 
----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Production (GWh)            12,640        10,880       42,482        38,750 
----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Revenue                        587           646        2,292         2,210 
----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Comparable EBITDA(1)           242           312        1,023         1,015 
----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Reported Net Earnings                                                       
 (loss) attributable                                                        
 to common                                                                  
 shareholders                  (66)           39          (71)         (615)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Comparable Net                                                              
 Earnings                                                                   
 attributable to                                                            
 common                                                                     
 shareholders(1)                 1            55           81           117 
----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Funds from                                                                  
 Operations(1)                 179           214          729           788 
----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Cash Flow from                                                              
 Operating Activities          165           245          765           520 
----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Free Cash Flow(1)               61            74          295           258 
----------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                            
----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Basic and Diluted                                                           
 Earnings (loss) per                                                        
 common share                (0.25)         0.15        (0.27)        (2.62)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Comparable Earnings                                                         
 per share(1)                 0.00          0.22         0.31          0.50 
----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Funds from Operations                                                       
 per share(1)                 0.67          0.84         2.76          3.35 
----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Free Cash Flow per                                                          
 share(1)                     0.23          0.29         1.12          1.10 
----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Dividends paid per                                                          
 common share                 0.29          0.29         1.16          1.16 
----------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                            
(1) Comparable EBITDA refers to Earnings before interest, taxes,            
depreciation and amortization including finance lease income and adjusted   
for certain other items. Free Cash Flow refers to Funds from Operations less
sustaining capital less preferred dividends less non-controlling interest   
payments. Comparable EBITDA, comparable net earnings attributable to common 
shareholders, funds from operations, free cash flow, comparable earnings per
share, funds from operations per share, and free cash flow per share are not
defined under International Financial Reporting Standards ("IFRS").         
Presenting these measures from period to period provides supplemental       
information to help management and shareholders evaluate earnings' and cash 
flow trends in comparison with prior periods' results. Refer to the Non-IFRS
Measures section of our Management's Discussion and Analysis ("MD&A") for   
further discussion of these items.                                          
                                                                            
(2) Adjusted for economic dispatching at Centralia Thermal, but not for     
Keephills Unit 1 force majeure.                                             

The complete report for the quarter, including MD&A and unaudited interim financial statements, as well as our quarterly presentation, will be available on the Investors section of our website: www.transalta.com.

Dividend Declarations

The Board of Directors of TransAlta today declared a quarterly dividend of $0.18 per share on common shares payable on April 1, 2014 to shareholders of record at the close of business March 4, 2014.

The Board of Directors of TransAlta also declared a quarterly dividend of $0.2875 per share on TransAlta's issued and outstanding Cumulative Redeemable Rate Reset First Preferred Shares, Series A, payable on March 31, 2014 to shareholders of record at the close of business on March 4, 2014.

The Board of Directors of TransAlta also declared a quarterly dividend of $0.2875 per share on TransAlta's issued and outstanding Cumulative Redeemable Rate Reset First Preferred Shares, Series C, payable on March 31, 2014 to shareholders of record at the close of business on March 4, 2014.

The Board of Directors of TransAlta also declared a quarterly dividend of $0.3125 per share on TransAlta's issued and outstanding Cumulative Redeemable Rate Reset First Preferred Shares, Series E, payable on March 31, 2014 to shareholders of record at the close of business on March 4, 2014.

TransAlta files year end disclosure documents

TransAlta also announced today it has filed its Annual Information Form, Audited Consolidated Financial Statements and accompanying notes, as well as its MD&A. These documents will be available through TransAlta's website at www.transalta.com or through Sedar at www.sedar.com.

TransAlta has also filed its 40-F with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The form is available through their website at www.sec.gov. Paper copies of all documents are available to shareholders free of charge upon request.

Conference call

We will hold a conference call and web cast at 7:00 a.m. MT (9:00 a.m. ET) today to discuss fourth quarter, full year 2013 results and 2014 Outlook, as well as the asset sale and revised dividend. The call will begin with formal remarks by Dawn Farrell, President and CEO, and Brett Gellner, Chief Financial Officer and Chief Investment Officer, followed by a question and answer period for investment analysts, investors and other interested parties. A question and answer period for the media will immediately follow. Please contact the conference operator five minutes prior to the call, noting "TransAlta Corporation" as the company and "Brent Ward" as moderator.

Dial-in numbers:

Toll-free North American participants call: 1-800-319-4610

Outside of Canada & USA call: 1-604-638-5340

A link to the live webcast will be available on the Investor Centre section of TransAlta's website at http://www.transalta.com/investor-centre/events-presentations/webcasts-conference-calls. If you are unable to participate in the call, the instant replay is accessible at 1-800-319-6413 (Canada and USA toll free) or 1-604-638-9010 (Outside of Canada) with TransAlta pass code 2231 followed by the # sign. A complete copy of TransAlta's fourth quarter extended news release is available in the Investor Centre section of our website: www.transalta.com. A transcript of the broadcast will be posted on the website once it becomes available. Note: If using a hands-free phone, lift the handset and press one to ask a question.

TransAlta is a power generation and wholesale marketing company focused on creating long-term shareholder value. TransAlta maintains a low-to-moderate risk profile by operating a highly contracted portfolio of assets in Canada, the United States and Australia. TransAlta's focus is to efficiently operate wind, hydro, natural gas and coal facilities in order to provide customers with a reliable, low-cost source of power. For over 100 years, TransAlta has been a responsible operator and a proud contributor to the communities in which it works and lives. TransAlta has been selected by Sustainalytics as one of Canada's Top 50 Socially Responsible Companies since 2009 and is recognized globally for its leadership on sustainability and corporate responsibility standards by FTSE4Good.

This news release contains forward looking statements, including statements regarding the business and anticipated financial performance of TransAlta Corporation. In particular, this news release contains forward-looking statements pertaining to the sale of the Corporation's interest in CE Generation, Blackrock development and Wailuku to the MidAmerican Renewables, a potential settlement related to California power markets as well as the Corporation's expectations for its 2014 comparable EBITDA, Free Cash Flow, sustaining capital expenditures and dividend payout These statements are based on TransAlta Corporation's belief and assumptions based on information available at the time the assumptions were made. These statements are subject to a number of risks and uncertainties that may cause actual results to differ materially from those contemplated by the forward-looking statements. Some of the factors that could cause such differences include: operational risks involving our facilities, market prices where we operate, unplanned outages at generating facilities and the capital investments required, equipment failure and our ability to carry out repairs in a cost effective manner or timely manner, the effects of weather, disruptions in the source of fuels, water, or wind required to operate our facilities, energy trading risks, failure to obtain necessary regulatory approvals in a timely fashion, legislative or regulatory developments, competition, global capital markets activity, changes in prevailing interest rates, currency exchange rates, inflation levels, commodity prices, general economic conditions in geographic areas where TransAlta Corporation operates and successful completion of the conditions applicable to the sale of CE Generation, Blackrock development and Wailuku.

Note: All financial figures are in Canadian dollars unless noted otherwise.

Contacts:
Investor inquiries:
TransAlta Corporation
Brent Ward
Director, Corporate Finance and Investor Relations
1-800-387-3598 in Canada and U.S.
[email protected]

Media inquiries:
TransAlta Corporation
Stacey Hatcher
Senior Corporate Relations Advisor
Cell: 587-216-2242 or Toll-free media number: 1-855-255-9184
Alternate local number: 403-267-2540

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