The following abbreviations and acronyms used in this disclosure statement are defined below:
BLM - Bureau of Land Management
Company - MDU Resources Group, Inc.
Dakota Prairie Refinery - 20,000 barrel per day diesel topping plant being built by Dakota Prairie Refining in southwestern North Dakota
Dakota Prairie Refining - Dakota Prairie Refining, LLC, a limited liability company jointly owned by WBI Energy and Calumet
EPA - U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
ERISA - Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974
Fidelity – Fidelity Exploration & Production Company, a direct wholly owned subsidiary of WBI Holdings
FIP - Funding Improvement Plan
GHG - Greenhouse gas
Knife River - Knife River Corporation, a direct wholly owned subsidiary of Centennial Energy Holdings, Inc.
Montana-Dakota - Montana-Dakota Utilities Co., a public utility division of the Company
MPPAA - Multiemployer Pension Plan Amendments Act of 1980
MW - Megawatt
NDPSC - North Dakota Public Service Commission
NGL - Natural Gas Liquids
NSPS - New Source Performance Standards
RCRA - Resource Conservation and Recovery Act
RP - Rehabilitation Plan
SEC - U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission
SEC Defined Prices - The average price of oil and natural gas during the applicable 12-month period, determined as an unweighted arithmetic average of the first-day-of-the-month price for each month within such period, unless prices are defined by contractual arrangements, excluding escalations based upon future conditions
The Company is including the following factors and cautionary statements to make applicable and to take advantage of the safe harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 for any forward-looking statements made by, or on behalf of, the Company. Forward-looking statements include statements concerning plans, objectives, goals, strategies, future events or performance, and underlying assumptions (many of which are based, in turn, upon further assumptions) and other statements that are other than statements of historical facts. From time to time, the Company may publish or otherwise make available forward-looking statements of this nature. All these subsequent forward-looking statements, whether written or oral and whether made by or on behalf of the Company, also are expressly qualified by these factors and cautionary statements.
Forward-looking statements involve risks and uncertainties, which could cause actual results or outcomes to differ materially from those expressed. The Company's expectations, beliefs and projections are expressed in good faith and are believed by the Company to have a reasonable basis, including without limitation, management's examination of historical operating trends, data contained in the Company's records and other data available from third parties. Nonetheless, the Company's expectations, beliefs or projections may not be achieved or accomplished.
Any forward-looking statement speaks only as of the date on which the statement is made, and the Company undertakes no obligation to update any forward-looking statement or statements to reflect events or circumstances that occur after the date on which the statement is made or to reflect the occurrence of unanticipated events. New factors emerge from time to time, and it is not possible for management to predict all of the factors, nor can it assess the effect of each factor on the Company's business or the extent to which any factor, or combination of factors, may cause actual results to differ materially from those contained in any forward-looking statement.
Following are some specific factors that should be considered for a better understanding of the Company's financial condition. These factors and the other matters discussed herein are important factors that could cause actual results or outcomes for the Company to differ materially from those discussed in the forward-looking statements.
The Company's exploration and production and pipeline and energy services businesses are dependent on factors, including commodity prices and commodity price basis differentials, that are subject to various external influences that cannot be controlled.
These factors include: fluctuations in oil, NGL and natural gas production and prices; fluctuations in commodity price basis differentials; availability of economic supplies of natural gas; drilling successes in oil and natural gas operations; the timely receipt of necessary permits and approvals; the ability to contract for or to secure necessary drilling rig and service contracts and to retain employees to identify, drill for and develop reserves; the ability to acquire oil and natural gas properties; and other risks incidental to the development and operations of oil and natural gas wells, processing plants and pipeline systems. Volatility in oil, NGL and natural gas prices could negatively affect the results of operations, cash flows and asset values of the Company's exploration and production and pipeline and energy services businesses.
The regulatory approval, permitting, construction, startup and/or operation of power generation facilities and Dakota Prairie Refinery may involve unanticipated events or delays that could negatively impact the Company's business and its results of operations and cash flows.
The construction, startup and operation of power generation facilities and Dakota Prairie Refinery involve many risks, which may include: delays; breakdown or failure of equipment; inability to obtain required governmental permits and approvals; inability to complete financing; inability to negotiate acceptable equipment acquisition, construction, fuel and crude oil supply, off-take, transmission, transportation or other material agreements; changes in markets and market prices for power, crude oil and refined products; cost increases; as well as the risk of performance below expected levels of output or efficiency. Such unanticipated events could negatively impact the Company's business, its results of operations and cash flows.
Economic volatility affects the Company's operations, as well as the demand for its products and services and the value of its investments and investment returns including its pension and other postretirement benefit plans, and may have a negative impact on the Company's future revenues and cash flows.
The global demand for natural resources, interest rate changes, governmental budget constraints and the ongoing threat of terrorism can create volatility in the financial markets. Unfavorable economic conditions can negatively affect the level of public and private expenditures on projects and the timing of these projects which, in turn, can negatively affect the demand for the Company's products and services, primarily at the Company's construction businesses. The level of demand for construction products and services could be adversely impacted by the economic conditions in the industries the Company serves, as well as in the economy in general. State and federal budget issues may negatively affect the funding available for infrastructure spending. This economic volatility could have a material adverse effect on the Company's results of operations, cash flows and asset values.
Changing market conditions could negatively affect the market value of assets held in the Company's pension and other postretirement benefit plans and may increase the amount and accelerate the timing of required funding contributions.
The Company relies on financing sources and capital markets. Access to these markets may be adversely affected by factors beyond the Company's control. If the Company is unable to obtain economic financing in the future, the Company's ability to execute its business plans, make capital expenditures or pursue acquisitions that the Company may otherwise rely on for future growth could be impaired. As a result, the market value of the Company's common stock may be adversely affected. If the Company issues a substantial amount of common stock it could have a dilutive effect on its existing shareholders.
The Company relies on access to both short-term borrowings, including the issuance of commercial paper, and long-term capital markets as sources of liquidity for capital requirements not satisfied by its cash flow from operations. If the Company is not able to access capital at competitive rates, the ability to implement its business plans may be adversely affected. Market disruptions or a downgrade of the Company's credit ratings may increase the cost of borrowing or adversely affect its ability to access one or more financial markets. Such disruptions could include:
- A severe prolonged economic downturn
- The bankruptcy of unrelated industry leaders in the same line of business
- Deterioration in capital market conditions
- Turmoil in the financial services industry
- Volatility in commodity prices
- Terrorist attacks
- Cyber attacks
Economic turmoil, market disruptions and volatility in the securities trading markets, as well as other factors including changes in the Company's results of operations, financial position and prospects, may adversely affect the market price of the Company's common stock.
The Company currently has a shelf registration statement on file with the SEC, under which the Company may issue and sell any combination of common stock and debt securities. The issuance of a substantial amount of the Company's common stock, whether sold pursuant to the registration statement, issued in connection with an acquisition or otherwise issued, or the perception that such an issuance could occur, may adversely affect the market price of the Company's common stock.
The Company is exposed to credit risk and the risk of loss resulting from the nonpayment and/or nonperformance by the Company's customers and counterparties.
If the Company's customers or counterparties were to experience financial difficulties or file for bankruptcy, the Company could experience difficulty in collecting receivables. The nonpayment and/or nonperformance by the Company's customers and counterparties could have a negative impact on the Company's results of operations and cash flows.
The backlogs at the Company's construction materials and contracting and construction services businesses are subject to delay or cancellation and may not be realized.
Backlog consists of the uncompleted portion of services to be performed under job-specific contracts. Contracts are subject to delay, default or cancellation and the contracts in the Company's backlog are subject to changes in the scope of services to be provided as well as adjustments to the costs relating to the applicable contracts. Backlog may also be affected by project delays or cancellations resulting from weather conditions, external market factors and economic factors beyond the Company's control, including the current economic slowdown. Accordingly, there is no assurance that backlog will be realized.
Actual quantities of recoverable oil, NGL and natural gas reserves and discounted future net cash flows from those reserves may vary significantly from estimated amounts. There is a risk that changes in estimates of proved reserve quantities or other factors including downward movements in prices, could result in additional future noncash write-downs of the Company's oil and natural gas properties.
The process of estimating oil, NGL and natural gas reserves is complex. Reserve estimates are based on assumptions relating to oil, NGL and natural gas pricing, drilling and operating expenses, capital expenditures, taxes, timing of operations, and the percentage of interest owned by the Company in the properties. The proved reserve estimates are prepared for each of the Company's properties by internal engineers assigned to an asset team by geographic area. The internal engineers analyze available geological, geophysical, engineering and economic data for each geographic area. The internal engineers make various assumptions regarding this data. The extent, quality and reliability of this data can vary. Although the Company has prepared its proved reserve estimates in accordance with guidelines established by the industry and the SEC, significant changes to the proved reserve estimates may occur based on actual results of production, drilling, costs and pricing.
The Company bases the estimated discounted future net cash flows from proved reserves on prices and current costs in accordance with SEC requirements. Actual future prices and costs may be significantly different. There is risk that lower SEC Defined Prices, market differentials, changes in estimates of proved reserve quantities, unsuccessful results of exploration and development efforts or changes in operating and development costs could result in additional future noncash write-downs of the Company's oil and natural gas properties.
The Company’s exploration and production and pipeline and energy services businesses are dependent on factors, including commodity prices and commodity price basis differentials, that are subject to various external influences that cannot be controlled.
These factors include: fluctuations in oil, NGL and natural gas production and prices; fluctuations in commodity price basis differentials; availability of economic supplies of natural gas; drilling successes in oil and natural gas operations; the timely receipt of necessary permits and approvals; the ability to contract for or to secure necessary drilling rig and service contracts and to retain employees to identify, drill for and develop reserves; utilizing appropriate technologies; irregularities in geological formations; and other risks incidental to the development and operations of oil and natural gas wells, processing plants and pipeline systems. Volatility in oil, NGL and natural gas prices could negatively affect the results of operations, cash flows and asset values of the Company’s exploration and production and pipeline and energy services businesses.
Environmental and Regulatory Risks
The Company's operations are subject to environmental laws and regulations that may increase costs of operations, impact or limit business plans, or expose the Company to environmental liabilities.
The Company is subject to environmental laws and regulations affecting many aspects of its operations, including air quality, water quality, waste management and other environmental considerations. These laws and regulations can increase capital, operating and other costs, cause delays as a result of litigation and administrative proceedings, and create compliance, remediation, containment, monitoring and reporting obligations, particularly relating to electric generation operations and oil and natural gas development and processing. These laws and regulations generally require the Company to obtain and comply with a wide variety of environmental licenses, permits, inspections and other approvals. Although the Company strives to comply with all applicable environmental laws and regulations, public and private entities and private individuals may interpret the Company's legal or regulatory requirements differently and seek injunctive relief or other remedies against the Company. The Company cannot predict the outcome (financial or operational) of any such litigation or administrative proceedings.
Existing environmental laws and regulations may be revised and new laws and regulations seeking to protect the environment may be adopted or become applicable to the Company. These laws and regulations could require the Company to limit the use or output of certain facilities, restrict the use of certain fuels, install pollution controls, remediate environmental contamination, remove or reduce environmental hazards, or prevent or limit the development of resources. Revised or additional laws and regulations that increase compliance costs or restrict operations, particularly if costs are not fully recoverable from customers, could have a material adverse effect on the Company's results of operations and cash flows.
The EPA issued draft regulations that outline several possible approaches for coal combustion residuals management under the RCRA. One approach, designating coal ash as a hazardous waste, if adopted would significantly change the manner and increase the costs of managing coal ash at five plants that supply electricity to customers of Montana-Dakota. This designation also could significantly increase costs for Knife River, which beneficially uses fly ash as a cement replacement in ready-mixed concrete and road base applications.
In December 2011, the EPA finalized the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards rules that will require reductions in mercury and other air emissions from coal- and oil-fired electric utility steam generating units. Montana-Dakota evaluated the pollution control technologies needed at its electric generation resources to comply with this rule and determined that the Lewis & Clark Station near Sidney, Montana, will require additional particulate matter control for non-mercury metal emissions. Montana-Dakota intends to comply with the rule by co-firing the plant with natural gas and lignite; however, scrubber modifications may also be needed for compliance. Controls must be in place by April 16, 2015, or April 16, 2016, if a one-year extension is granted for completion of the pollution control project.
Hydraulic fracturing is an important common practice used by Fidelity that involves injecting water, sand, a water-thickening agent called guar, and trace amounts of chemicals, under pressure, into rock formations to stimulate oil, NGL and natural gas production. Fidelity follows state regulations for well drilling and completion, including regulations for hydraulic fracturing and recovered fluids disposal. Fracturing fluid constituents are reported on state or national websites. The EPA is developing a study to review potential effects of hydraulic fracturing on underground sources of drinking water; the results of that study could impact future legislation or regulation. The BLM has released draft well stimulation regulations for hydraulic fracturing operations. If implemented, the BLM regulations would affect only Fidelity's operations on BLM-administered lands. If adopted as proposed, the BLM regulations, along with other legislative initiatives and regulatory studies, proceedings or initiatives at federal or state agencies that focus on the hydraulic fracturing process, could result in additional compliance, reporting and disclosure requirements. Future legislation or regulation could increase compliance and operating costs, as well as delay or inhibit the Company's ability to develop its oil, NGL and natural gas reserves.
On August 16, 2012, the EPA published a final NSPS rule for the oil and natural gas industry. The NSPS rule phases in over two years. The first phase was effective October 15, 2012, and primarily covers natural gas wells that are hydraulically fractured. Under the new rule, gas vapors or emissions from the natural gas wells must be captured or combusted utilizing a high-efficiency device. Additional reporting requirements and control devices covering oil and natural gas production equipment will be phased in for certain new oil and gas facilities with a final effective date of January 1, 2015. This new rule's impacts on Fidelity, WBI Energy Transmission and WBI Energy Midstream are not expected to be material and are likely to include implementing recordkeeping, reporting and testing requirements and purchasing and installing required equipment.
Initiatives to reduce GHG emissions could adversely impact the Company's operations.
Concern that GHG emissions are contributing to global climate change has led to international, federal and state legislative and regulatory proposals to reduce or mitigate the effects of GHG emissions. On June 25, 2013, President Obama released his Climate Action Plan for the U.S. in which he stated his goal to reduce GHG emissions "in the range of 17 percent" below 2005 levels by 2020. The president issued a memorandum to the EPA on the same day, instructing the EPA to re-propose the GHG NSPS rule for new electric generation units. The EPA released the re-proposed rule on January 8, 2014, in the Federal Register, which takes the place of the rule proposed in 2012 for new electric generation units that the EPA did not finalize. This rule applies to new fossil fuel-fired electric generation units, including coal-fired units, natural gas-fired combined-cycle units and natural gas-fired simple-cycle peaking units. The EPA's 1,100 pounds of carbon dioxide per MW hour emissions standard for coal-fired units does not allow any new coal-fired electric generation to be constructed unless carbon dioxide is captured and sequestered.
President Obama also directed the EPA to develop a GHG NSPS standard for existing fossil fuel-fired electric generation units by June 1, 2014, with finalization by June 1, 2015. On June 18, 2014, the EPA published in the Federal Register a proposed rule limiting carbon dioxide emissions from existing fossil fuel-fired electric generating units and a separate proposed rule limiting carbon dioxide emissions from existing units that are modified or reconstructed.
In the proposed rule for existing source, the EPA requires carbon dioxide emission reductions from each state and instructs each state, or group of states that work together, to submit a plan to the EPA by June 30, 2016, that demonstrates how the state will achieve the targeted emission reductions by 2030. The state plans could include performance standards, emissions reductions or limits on generation for each existing fossil fuel-fired generating unit. It is unknown at this time what each state will require for emissions reductions from each Montana-Dakota owned and jointly owned fossil fuel-fired electric generating unit. In the EPA’s proposed GHG rule for modified or reconstructed fossil fuel-fired sources, the EPA proposes emissions limits that could potentially be unachievable. Montana-Dakota does not plan to modify or reconstruct any fossil fuel-fired units at this time, but may modify or reconstruct units in the future which must comply with the rule limitations.
The Company’s primary GHG emission is carbon dioxide from fossil fuels combustion at Montana-Dakota's electric generating facilities, particularly its coal-fired facilities. Approximately 70 percent of Montana-Dakota's owned generating capacity and more than 90 percent of the electricity it generates is from coal-fired facilities.
There may also be new treaties, legislation or regulations to reduce GHG emissions that could affect Montana-Dakota's electric utility operations by requiring additional energy conservation efforts or renewable energy sources, as well as other mandates that could significantly increase capital expenditures and operating costs. If Montana-Dakota does not receive timely and full recovery of GHG emission compliance costs from its customers, then such costs could adversely impact the results of its operations.
In addition to Montana-Dakota's electric generation operations, the GHG emissions from the Company's other operations are monitored, analyzed and reported as required by applicable laws and regulations. The Company monitors GHG regulations and the potential for GHG regulations to impact operations.
Due to the uncertain availability of technologies to control GHG emissions and the unknown obligations that potential GHG emission legislation or regulations may create, the Company cannot determine the potential financial impact on its operations.
The Company is subject to government regulations that may delay and/or have a negative impact on its business and its results of operations and cash flows. Statutory and regulatory requirements also may limit another party's ability to acquire the Company.
The Company is subject to regulation or governmental actions by federal, state and local regulatory agencies with respect to, among other things, allowed rates of return, and recovery of investment and cost, financing, industry rate structures, health care legislation, tax legislation and recovery of purchased power and purchased gas costs. These governmental regulations significantly influence the Company's operating environment and may affect its ability to recover costs from its customers. The Company is unable to predict the impact on operating results from the future regulatory activities of any of these agencies. Changes in regulations or the imposition of additional regulations could have an adverse impact on the Company's results of operations and cash flows. Approval from a number of federal and state regulatory agencies would need to be obtained by any potential acquirer of the Company. The approval process could be lengthy and the outcome uncertain.
Weather conditions can adversely affect the Company's operations and revenues and cash flows.
The Company's results of operations can be affected by changes in the weather. Weather conditions influence the demand for electricity and natural gas, affect the price of energy commodities, affect the ability to perform services at the construction materials and contracting and construction services businesses and affect ongoing operation and maintenance and construction and drilling activities for the pipeline and energy services and exploration and production businesses. In addition, severe weather can be destructive, causing outages, reduced oil and natural gas production, and/or property damage, which could require additional costs to be incurred. As a result, adverse weather conditions could negatively affect the Company's results of operations, financial position and cash flows.
Competition is increasing in all of the Company's businesses.
All of the Company's businesses are subject to increased competition. Construction services' competition is based primarily on price and reputation for quality, safety and reliability. Construction materials products are marketed under highly competitive conditions and are subject to such competitive forces as price, service, delivery time and proximity to the customer. The electric utility and natural gas industries also are experiencing increased competitive pressures as a result of consumer demands, technological advances, volatility in natural gas prices and other factors. The pipeline and energy services business competes with several pipelines for access to natural gas supplies and gathering, transportation and storage business. The exploration and production business is subject to competition in the acquisition and development of oil and natural gas properties. The increase in competition could negatively affect the Company's results of operations, financial position and cash flows.
The Company could be subject to limitations on its ability to pay dividends.
The Company depends on earnings from its divisions and dividends from its subsidiaries to pay dividends on its common stock. Regulatory, contractual and legal limitations, as well as capital requirements and the Company's financial performance or cash flows, could limit the earnings of the Company's divisions and subsidiaries which, in turn, could restrict the Company's ability to pay dividends on its common stock and adversely affect the Company's stock price.
An increase in costs related to obligations under multiemployer pension plans could have a material negative effect on the Company's results of operations and cash flows.
Various operating subsidiaries of the Company participate in approximately 80 multiemployer pension plans for employees represented by certain unions. The Company is required to make contributions to these plans in amounts established under numerous collective bargaining agreements between the operating subsidiaries and those unions.
The Company may be obligated to increase its contributions to underfunded plans that are classified as being in endangered, seriously endangered, or critical status as defined by the Pension Protection Act of 2006. Plans classified as being in one of these statuses are required to adopt RPs or FIPs to improve their funded status through increased contributions, reduced benefits or a combination of the two. Based on available information, the Company believes that approximately 40 percent of the multiemployer plans to which it contributes are currently in endangered, seriously endangered, or critical status.
The Company may also be required to increase its contributions to multiemployer plans where the other participating employers in such plans withdraw from the plan and are not able to contribute an amount sufficient to fund the unfunded liabilities associated with their participants in the plans. The amount and timing of any increase in the Company's required contributions to multiemployer pension plans may also depend upon one or more of the following factors including the outcome of collective bargaining, actions taken by trustees who manage the plans, actions taken by the plans' other participating employers, the industry for which contributions are made, future determinations that additional plans reach endangered, seriously endangered or critical status, government regulations and the actual return on assets held in the plans, among others. The Company may experience increased operating expenses as a result of the required contributions to multiemployer pension plans, which may have a material adverse effect on the Company's results of operations, financial position or cash flows.
In addition, pursuant to ERISA, as amended by MPPAA, the Company could incur a partial or complete withdrawal liability upon withdrawing from a plan, exiting a market in which it does business with a union workforce or upon termination of a plan to the extent these plans are underfunded.
On September 24, 2014, Knife River provided notice to the plan administrator under one of the multiemployer pension plans to which Knife River is a party that it was withdrawing from the plan effective October 26, 2014. The plan administrator will determine Knife River’s withdrawal liability, which the Company currently estimates at approximately $14 million (approximately $8.4 million after tax). Actual withdrawal liability costs may be significantly different.
The Company's operations may be negatively impacted by cyber attacks or acts of terrorism.
The Company operates in industries that require continual operation of sophisticated information technology systems and network infrastructure. While the Company has developed procedures and processes that are designed to protect these systems, they may be vulnerable to failures or unauthorized access due to hacking, viruses, acts of terrorism or other causes. If the technology systems were to fail or be breached and these systems were not recovered in a timely manner, the Company's operational systems and infrastructure, such as the Company's electric generation, transmission and distribution facilities and its oil and natural gas production, storage and pipeline systems, may be unable to fulfill critical business functions. Any such disruption could result in a decrease in the Company's revenues and/or significant remediation costs which could have a material adverse effect on the Company's results of operations, financial position and cash flows. Additionally, because generation, transmission systems and gas pipelines are part of an interconnected system, a disruption elsewhere in the system could negatively impact the Company's business.
The Company's business requires access to sensitive customer data in the ordinary course of business. Despite the Company's implementation of security measures, a failure or breach of a security system could compromise sensitive and confidential information and data. Such an event could result in negative publicity, remediation costs and possible legal claims and fines which could adversely affect the Company's financial results. The Company's third party service providers that perform critical business functions or have access to sensitive and confidential information and data may also be vulnerable to security breaches and other risks that could have an adverse effect on the Company.
While the Company plans to market and potentially sell its exploration and production business, there is no assurance that it will be successful.
As part of the Company’s corporate strategy, it plans to market and potentially sell its exploration and production assets and exit that line of business. Such a disposition and exit is subject to various risks, including: suitable purchasers may not be available or willing to purchase the assets on terms and conditions acceptable to the Company or may only be interested in acquiring a portion of the assets; the agreements pursuant to which the Company divests the assets may contain continuing indemnification obligations; the inability to obtain waivers from applicable covenants under debt agreements; the company may incur substantial costs in connection with the marketing and sale of the assets; the marketing and sale of the assets could distract management, divert resources, disrupt the Company’s ongoing business and make it difficult for the Company to maintain its current business standards, controls and procedures; uncertainties associated with the sale may cause a loss of key management personnel at Fidelity which could make it more difficult to sell the assets or operate the business in the event that the Company is unable to sell it; sale of the assets could result in substantial tax liability; if the Company is unable to sell the assets it may be required to record an impaired asset charge that could have an adverse effect on the Company’s financial condition; and the Company may not be able to redeploy the proceeds from any sale of the assets in a manner that produces similar revenues and growth rates or enhances shareholder value.
Other factors that could impact the Company's businesses.
The following are other factors that should be considered for a better understanding of the financial condition of the Company. These other factors may impact the Company's financial results in future periods.
- Acquisition, disposal and impairments of assets or facilities
- Changes in operation, performance and construction of plant facilities or other assets
- Changes in present or prospective generation
- The ability to obtain adequate and timely cost recovery for the Company's regulated operations through regulatory proceedings
- The availability of economic expansion or development opportunities
- Population growth rates and demographic patterns
- Market demand for, available supplies of, and/or costs of, energy- and construction-related products and services
- The cyclical nature of large construction projects at certain operations
- Changes in tax rates or policies
- Unanticipated project delays or changes in project costs, including related energy costs
- Unanticipated changes in operating expenses or capital expenditures
- Labor negotiations or disputes
- Inability of the various contract counterparties to meet their contractual obligations
- Changes in accounting principles and/or the application of such principles to the Company
- Changes in technology
- Changes in legal or regulatory proceedings
- The ability to effectively integrate the operations and the internal controls of acquired companies
- The ability to attract and retain skilled labor and key personnel
- Increases in employee and retiree benefit costs and funding requirements