Chesapeake Utilities Corporation Reports Higher Earnings For The First Quarter

- First quarter net income increased to $17.7 million, or $1.82 per share

- Acquisitions completed in 2013 generated $4.8 million of incremental gross margin

- Colder temperatures in the first quarter of 2014 increased gross margin by $2.7 million

- New services resulting from natural gas system expansions generated $1.4 million in additional gross margin

May 06, 2014, 06:30 ET from Chesapeake Utilities Corporation

DOVER, Del., May 6, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Chesapeake Utilities Corporation (NYSE: CPK) today reported first quarter financial results. The Company's net income for the three months ended March 31, 2014 was $17.7 million, or $1.82 per share. This represents an increase of $2.8 million, or $0.28 per share, over the same quarter in 2013. 

"We begin 2014 with another great quarter of financial results and growth. Our first quarter results reflect positive contributions from natural gas service expansions and acquisitions completed in 2013, as well as additional gross margin generated from colder temperatures," stated Michael P. McMasters, President and Chief Executive Officer of Chesapeake Utilities Corporation. "I am particularly proud of our employees' unwavering determination and drive during a significantly challenging winter. Operationally, we faced several periods of extreme weather, and our natural gas and propane employees responded to the challenges created by the sharply increased customer demands and the weather's impact on the infrastructures of the Company and our suppliers," Mr. McMasters added.

"We are continuing to identify and evaluate potential opportunities to further expand our regulated and unregulated service offerings within and beyond our current markets, and we are making the investments needed to support both our recent and future growth," Mr. McMasters added.

A more detailed discussion and analysis of the Company's results for each segment are provided in the following pages.

Operating Results for the Three Months Ended March 31, 2014 and 2013

The Company's operating income for the three months ended March 31, 2014 was $31.6 million, an increase of $5.1 million over the same quarter in 2013.  Gross margin increased by $11.7 million, which was partially offset by an increase of $6.6 million in other operating expenses. Acquisitions completed in 2013 resulted in $4.8 million of additional gross margin and $2.1 million of other operating expenses during the first quarter of 2014. The remaining increase in gross margin was due primarily to: (a) $2.7 million from increased usage due to colder temperatures on the Delmarva Peninsula and in Florida; (b) $1.4 million in new margin generated as a result of natural gas service expansions; (c) $1.0 million in increased wholesale propane sales; (d) $889,000 in higher profit from increased propane wholesale marketing activity; and (e) $724,000 in additional revenue related to continued implementation of the Florida Gas Replacement Infrastructure Program ("GRIP"). These increases in gross margin were partially offset by $516,000 in lower retail propane margins as a result of retail margins on the Delmarva Peninsula beginning to revert to more normal levels.  Other operating expenses increases included primarily: (a) $1.2 million in increased payroll to support recent growth and expand the Company's capabilities for future growth; (b) $980,000 in increased accruals for incentive bonuses as a result of the Company's financial performance to date; (c) $726,000 in increased depreciation and property tax costs associated with new capital investments; and (d) $674,000 in higher benefits costs as a result of healthcare costs and other employee-related expenses. 

Regulated Energy

Operating income for the regulated energy segment increased by $3.8 million to $21.1 million for the quarter ended March 31, 2014, compared to the same quarter in 2013. A $7.9 million increase in gross margin was partially offset by a $4.1 million increase in other operating expenses. The significant components of the gross margin increase included:

  • $4.3 million generated by Sandpiper Energy, Inc. ("Sandpiper"), which acquired the operating assets of Eastern Shore Gas ("ESG") and its affiliates in May 2013;
  • $1.4 million from new margin generated from major service expansions completed in 2013;
  • $836,000 from higher usage due to colder temperatures during the first quarter of 2014, compared to the same quarter in 2013; and
  • $724,000 generated under the Florida GRIP.

The increase in other operating expenses was due primarily to: (a) $1.4 million in other operating expenses associated with Sandpiper's operations; (b) $744,000 in higher depreciation, amortization, asset removal and property tax costs associated with capital investments to support growth and maintain system integrity; (c) $643,000 in increased accruals for incentive bonuses as a result of strong financial performance during the first quarter; (d) $616,000 in higher payroll costs to support recent growth and expand the Company's capabilities for future growth; and (e) $478,000 in higher benefits costs.

Unregulated Energy

Operating income for the unregulated energy segment increased by $1.5 million to $10.9 million for the quarter ended March 31, 2014, compared to the same quarter in 2013.  A $3.6 million increase in gross margin was partially offset by a $2.1 million increase in other operating expenses. The significant components of the gross margin increase included:

  • $1.9 million as a result of higher consumption by retail propane customers due to colder temperatures;
  • $1.0 million in increased wholesale propane sales due primarily to a supply agreement entered into in May 2013 with an affiliate of ESG;
  • $889,000 in higher profit from Xeron, Inc. ("Xeron"), the Company's propane wholesale marketing subsidiary, as higher volatility in wholesale propane prices resulted in higher profit on trading activity; and
  • $440,000 generated by other acquisitions consummated in 2013.

These increases were partially offset by a decrease of $516,000 due to lower retail propane margins as margins began to return to more normal levels in 2014.

The increase in other operating expenses was due primarily to: (a) $632,000 in additional expenses incurred by the entities acquired in 2013; (b) $392,000 in higher payroll expense due to increased seasonal overtime and associated resources; and (c) $389,000 in increased accruals for incentive bonuses as a result of the strong first quarter performance. 

Other

The "other" segment, which consists primarily of BravePoint®, Inc., the Company's advanced information services subsidiary, reported an operating loss of $326,000 for the quarter ended March 31, 2014, compared to an operating loss of $125,000 in the same quarter in 2013.  This decline reflected a $344,000 increase in operating expenses partially offset by a $143,000 increase in gross margin.   

Matters discussed in this release may include forward-looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties. Actual results may differ materially from those in the forward-looking statements. Please refer to the Safe Harbor for Forward-Looking Statements in the Company's most recent report on Form 10-K for further information on the risks and uncertainties related to the Company's forward-looking statements.

The discussions of the results use the term "gross margin," a non-Generally Accepted Accounting Principles ("GAAP") financial measure, which management uses to evaluate the performance of the Company's business segments. For an explanation of the calculation of "gross margin," see the footnote to the Financial Summary.

Unless otherwise noted, earnings per share information is presented on a diluted basis. 

Conference Call

Chesapeake Utilities Corporation will host a conference call on May 8, 2014 at 10:30 a.m. Eastern Time to discuss the Company's financial results for the first quarter ended March 31, 2014. To participate in this call, dial 866.821.5457 and reference Chesapeake Utilities Corporation's 2014 First Quarter Financial Results Conference Call. To access the replay recording of this call, please visit the Company's website at http://investor.chpk.com/results.cfm.

About Chesapeake Utilities Corporation

Chesapeake Utilities Corporation is a diversified energy company engaged in natural gas distribution, transmission and marketing, electricity distribution, propane gas distribution and wholesale marketing, advanced information services and other related services. Information about Chesapeake Utilities Corporation and the Chesapeake family of businesses is available at http://www.chpk.com.

For more information, contact: Beth W. Cooper Senior Vice President & Chief Financial Officer 302.734.6799

 

 

Financial Summary (in thousands, except per-share)

Three Months Ended

March 31,

2014

2013

Gross Margin (1)

Regulated Energy

$

47,859

$

39,951

Unregulated Energy

20,814

17,184

Other

2,032

1,889

Total Gross Margin

$

70,705

$

59,024

Operating Income (Loss)

Regulated Energy

$

21,091

$

17,306

Unregulated Energy

10,858

9,369

Other

(326)

(125)

Total Operating Income

31,623

26,550

Other Income, net of other expenses

6

289

Interest Charges

2,155

2,072

Income Taxes

11,793

9,898

Net Income

$

17,681

$

14,869

Earnings Per Share of Common Stock

Basic

$

1.83

$

1.55

Diluted

$

1.82

$

1.54

(1) "Gross margin" is determined by deducting the cost of sales from operating revenue. Cost of sales includes the purchased fuel cost for natural gas, electricity and propane and the cost of labor spent on direct revenue-producing activities. Gross margin should not be considered an alternative to operating income or net income, which is determined in accordance with GAAP. Chesapeake believes that gross margin, although a non-GAAP measure, is useful and meaningful to investors as a basis for making investment decisions. It provides investors with information that demonstrates the profitability achieved by the Company under its allowed rates for regulated operations and under its competitive pricing structure for non-regulated segments. Chesapeake's management uses gross margin in measuring its business units' performance and has historically analyzed and reported gross margin information publicly. Other companies may calculate gross margin in a different manner.

 

Financial Summary Highlights

 

Key variances for the three months ended March 31, 2014 included:

(in thousands, except per share)

Pre-tax

Income

Net

Income

Earnings

Per Share

First Quarter of 2013 Reported Results

$

24,767

$

14,869

$

1.54

Adjusting for unusual items:

Weather impact (due primarily to colder temperatures in 2014)

2,711

1,628

0.17

2,711

1,628

0.17

Increased (Decreased) Gross Margins:

Major Projects (See Major Projects Highlights table)

Contribution from Sandpiper

4,289

2,575

0.27

Service expansions

1,423

855

0.08

Increased wholesale propane sales

1,032

620

0.06

Propane wholesale marketing

889

534

0.06

GRIP

724

435

0.04

Lower retail propane margins

(516)

(310)

(0.03)

Contribution from other acquisitions

502

302

0.03

8,343

5,011

0.51

Increased Other Operating Expenses:

Expenses from acquisitions

(2,117)

(1,271)

(0.14)

Higher payroll costs

(1,161)

(697)

(0.07)

Increased accruals for incentive compensation

(980)

(589)

(0.06)

Higher depreciation, asset removal and property tax costs due to new         capital investments

(726)

(436)

(0.04)

Higher benefits costs

(674)

(405)

(0.04)

(5,658)

(3,398)

(0.35)

Net Other Changes

(689)

(429)

(0.05)

First Quarter of 2014 Reported Results

$

29,474

$

17,681

$

1.82

 

 

The following information highlights certain key factors contributing to the Company's results for the quarter ended March 31, 2014:

Major Projects

Acquisition

In May 2013, the Company completed the purchase of the operating assets of ESG and its affiliates.  Approximately 11,000 residential and commercial underground propane distribution system customers acquired in this transaction are now being served by Sandpiper under the tariff approved by the Maryland Public Service Commission ("PSC"). The Company is evaluating the potential conversion of some of these systems to natural gas. This acquisition is expected to be accretive to earnings per share in the first full year of operations. The Company generated $4.3 million in additional gross margin from Sandpiper and incurred $1.4 million in other operating expenses for the three months ended March 31, 2014.

Service Expansions

During 2013, Eastern Shore Natural Gas Company ("Eastern Shore"), the Company's interstate natural gas transmission subsidiary, commenced new transmission services to local distribution utilities and industrial customers in Delaware and Maryland. These new services generated additional gross margin of $1.2 million in the first quarter of 2014 over the same quarter in 2013. 

In August 2013, Peninsula Pipeline Company, Inc., the Company's intrastate natural gas transmission subsidiary, commenced a new firm transportation service in Florida with an unaffiliated utility. This new service generated $210,000 in gross margin for the three months ended March 31, 2014.

Future System Expansions and New Services

In June 2013, Eastern Shore filed an application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, seeking approval to construct a pipeline lateral to an industrial customer facility under construction in Kent County, Delaware.  Upon completion of construction of the required facilities, this new service is expected to generate annual gross margin of approximately $1.2 million to $1.8 million. The new facilities include approximately 5.5 miles of lateral pipeline and metering facilities and extend from Eastern Shore's mainline to the new industrial customer facility.  The construction of this lateral will not increase the overall capacity of Eastern Shore's mainline system.  Service is projected to commence in January 2015.

Eastern Shore also executed a one-year contract with another industrial customer to provide 50,000 dekatherms per day of additional service from April 2014 to April 2015.  This short-term contract is expected to generate $1.9 million and $767,000 of gross margin in 2014 and 2015, respectively.

GRIP

The Florida PSC approved the GRIP, which is designed to recover capital and other program-related-costs, inclusive of a return on investment, to replace older pipes in the Company's Florida service territories. The Company received approval to invest $75 million to replace qualifying distribution mains and services (any material other than coated steel or plastic).  Since the beginning of 2013, $21.4 million has been invested, $4.6 million of which is in 2014.  These investments generated additional gross margin of $724,000 for the three months ended March 31, 2014 over the same quarter in 2013. 

Investing in Growth

The Company continues to expand its resources and capabilities to support growth. The Company's Delmarva natural gas distribution operation is in the early stages of natural gas distribution expansions in Sussex County, Delaware, and Worcester and Cecil Counties, Maryland. These expansions will require not only the construction or conversion of distribution facilities, but also the conversion of residential customers' appliances or equipment. The Company has begun the process of reorganizing our Delmarva natural gas distribution operation and expects to increase staffing to support future expansions. Eastern Shore expects to increase its staffing to support recent and future expansions of its facilities and services. Finally, to increase the Company's overall capabilities to support sustained future growth, resources have been added in the Company's corporate shared services departments. For the three months ended March 31, 2014, payroll expenses for the Company's Regulated Energy segment increased by $616,000, compared to the same quarter in 2013, as a result of the increased resources.  The Company expects to make additional investments in human resources, as needed, to further develop its capability to capitalize on future growth opportunities. 

Weather and Consumption

Temperatures on the Delmarva Peninsula and in Florida during the first three months of 2014 were significantly colder than the first quarter of 2013. The following tables highlight the heating degree-day ("HDD") and cooling degree-day ("CDD") information for the quarters ended March 31, 2014 and 2013 and the gross margin variance resulting from the weather fluctuation in those periods. 

 

 

HDD and CDD Information

Three Months Ended

March 31,

2014

2013

Variance

Delmarva

Actual HDD

2,717

2,407

310

10-Year Average HDD ("Normal")

2,361

2,377

(16)

Variance from Normal

356

30

Florida

Actual HDD

557

468

89

10-Year Average HDD ("Normal")

529

541

(12)

Variance from Normal

28

(73)

Florida

Actual CDD

42

81

(39)

10-Year Average CDD ("Normal")

74

75

(1)

Variance from Normal

(32)

6

 

Gross Margin Variance attributed to Weather

(in thousands)

2014 vs. 2013

2014 vs. Normal

Delmarva

Regulated Energy

$

511

$

617

Unregulated Energy

1,827

1,096

Florida

Regulated Energy

325

(207)

Unregulated Energy

48

81

Total

$

2,711

$

1,587

 

 

Propane Prices

The Company's retail propane margins began to revert to more normal levels during the first quarter of 2014, as a significant increase in wholesale prices in late 2013 and early 2014 increased the Company's average propane inventory cost. The decline in retail propane margins reduced the Company's gross margin by $516,000 during the first quarter of 2014, compared to the same quarter in 2013.

The increase in wholesale propane sales generated additional gross margin of $1.0 million due primarily to the wholesale propane supply agreements entered into in May 2013 with an affiliate of ESG.

Xeron, which benefits from wholesale price volatility by entering into trading transactions, generated an increase in gross margin of $889,000 during the first quarter of 2014. Higher wholesale price volatility during the current period resulted in higher profits on executed trades.

 

 

Chesapeake Utilities Corporation and Subsidiaries

Major Project Highlights (Unaudited)

Major Projects Initiated (dollars in thousands):

Gross Margin

Q1 2014

2014 (1)

Acquisition:

ESG acquisition being served by Sandpiper in Worcester County, Maryland (2)

$

4,289

$

9,817

Service Expansions

Natural Gas Distribution:

Long-term

Sussex County, Delaware (3)

$

204

$

694

Natural Gas Transmission:

Short-term

New Castle County, Delaware (4) (5)

$

$

1,862

Total Short-term

$

$

1,862

Long-term

Sussex County, Delaware (6)

$

431

$

1,725

New Castle County, Delaware (6) (7)

741

2,964

Nassau County, Florida (6)

327

1,300

Worcester County, Maryland (6)

137

547

Cecil County, Maryland (6)

287

1,147

Indian River County, Florida

210

840

Kent County, Delaware

665

2,660

Total Long-term

$

2,798

$

11,183

Total Service Expansions

$

3,002

$

13,739

Total Major Projects

$

7,291

$

23,556

Less: 2013 Margin

$

1,579

$

13,176

Incremental Margin in 2014 over 2013

$

5,712

$

10,380

(1)

The figures provided represent the estimated annual gross margin.

(2)

During the quarter ended March 31, 2014, we incurred $1.4 million in other operating expenses related to Sandpiper's operation. We expect to incur $6.3 million in other operating expenses for the entire 2014.

(3)

These services generated $201,000 in gross margin in the first quarter of 2013.

(4)

Expected gross margin in 2014 includes $1.9 million from a new short-term contract for 50,000 Dts/d for one year, which began in April 2014.

(5)

During the first quarter of 2013 we provided short-term service and generated $40,000 in gross margin. The short-term service was displaced by a new long-term service in November 2013.

(6)

Gross margin generated by these services in the first quarter of 2013 was $345,000 for Sussex County, Delaware; $343,000 for New Castle County, Delaware; $332,000 for Nassau County, Florida; $98,000 for Worcester County Maryland and $220,000 for Cecil County, Maryland.

(7)

Gross margin generated from this service expansion replaces the 10,000 Dts/d contract, which expired in November 2012. This expired contract had annualized gross margin of $1.1 million.

 

Future System Expansions and New Services with Executed Contracts (dollars in thousands):

Project

Estimated Date of New Service

Estimated 2014 Margin

Estimated Annualized Margin

Short-term Natural Gas Transmission Service in New Castle County, Delaware

From Apr-14 to Apr-15

$1,860

$2,629

Service to an industrial customer facility under construction in Kent County, Delaware (1)

Starting in Jan-15

$—

$1,200 to $1,800

(1)

The estimated gross margin is based upon the precedent agreement entered into by the parties for these services. A firm transportation service agreement will be entered into by the parties upon satisfying certain conditions. The construction of this lateral will not increase the overall capacity of the Company's mainline system.  

 

Chesapeake Utilities Corporation and Subsidiaries

Condensed Consolidated Statements of Income (Unaudited)

(in thousands, except shares and per share data)

Three Months Ended

March 31,

2014

2013

Operating Revenues

Regulated Energy

$

102,166

$

81,566

Unregulated Energy

79,973

54,991

Other

4,198

4,172

Total Operating Revenues

186,337

140,729

Operating Expenses

Regulated energy cost of sales

54,307

41,615

Unregulated energy and other cost of sales

61,325

40,090

Operations

26,626

21,754

Maintenance

2,148

1,722

Depreciation and amortization

6,635

5,820

Other taxes

3,673

3,178

Total operating expenses

154,714

114,179

Operating Income

31,623

26,550

Other income, net of other expenses

6

289

Interest charges

2,155

2,072

Income Before Income Taxes

29,474

24,767

Income taxes

11,793

9,898

Net Income

$

17,681

$

14,869

Weighted Average Common Shares Outstanding:

Basic

9,658,431

9,601,529

Diluted

9,693,434

9,678,950

Earnings Per Share of Common Stock:

Basic

$

1.83

$

1.55

Diluted

$

1.82

$

1.54

 

Chesapeake Utilities Corporation and Subsidiaries

 

Condensed Consolidated Balance Sheets (Unaudited)

Assets

March 31, 2014

December 31, 2013

(in thousands, except shares)

Property, Plant and Equipment

Regulated energy

$

697,725

$

691,522

Unregulated energy

76,938

76,267

Other

21,129

21,002

Total property, plant and equipment

795,792

788,791

Less:  Accumulated depreciation and amortization

(179,918)

(174,148)

Plus:  Construction work in progress

27,228

16,603

Net property, plant and equipment

643,102

631,246

Current Assets

Cash and cash equivalents

4,791

3,356

Accounts receivable (less allowance for uncollectible accounts of $1,976 and     $1,635, respectively)

80,313

75,293

Accrued revenue

12,536

13,910

Propane inventory, at average cost

6,088

10,456

Other inventory, at average cost

3,728

4,880

Storage gas prepayments

1,323

4,318

Prepaid expenses

4,890

6,910

Income taxes receivable

2,609

Mark-to-market energy assets

385

Regulatory assets

4,342

2,436

Deferred income taxes

1,723

1,696

Other current assets

198

160

Total current assets

119,932

126,409

Deferred Charges and Other Assets

Investments, at fair value

2,951

3,098

Regulatory assets

66,395

66,584

Goodwill

4,625

4,354

Other intangible assets, net

2,875

2,975

Receivables and other deferred charges

2,681

2,856

Total deferred charges and other assets

79,527

79,867

Total Assets

$

842,561

$

837,522

 

Chesapeake Utilities Corporation and Subsidiaries

 

Condensed Consolidated Balance Sheets (Unaudited)

Capitalization and Liabilities

March 31, 2014

December 31, 2013

(in thousands, except shares and per share data)

Capitalization

Stockholders' equity

Common stock, par value $0.4867 per share

(authorized 25,000,000 shares)

$

4,715

$

4,691

Additional paid-in capital

152,862

152,341

Retained earnings

138,176

124,274

Accumulated other comprehensive loss

(2,502)

(2,533)

Deferred compensation obligation

1,138

1,124

Treasury stock

(1,138)

(1,124)

Total stockholders' equity

293,251

278,773

Long-term debt, net of current maturities

117,195

117,592

Total capitalization

410,446

396,365

Current Liabilities

Current portion of long-term debt

10,955

11,353

Short-term borrowing

83,470

105,666

Accounts payable

58,183

53,482

Accrued compensation

4,937

8,394

Accrued interest

2,536

1,235

Dividends payable

3,730

3,710

Income taxes payable

8,955

Mark-to-market energy liabilities

127

Regulatory liabilities

7,071

4,157

Customer deposits and refunds

24,405

26,140

Other accrued liabilities

8,934

7,678

Total current liabilities

213,176

221,942

Deferred Credits and Other Liabilities

Deferred income taxes

142,414

142,597

Deferred investment tax credits

65

74

Regulatory liabilities

4,178

4,402

Accrued asset removal cost - Regulatory liability

40,007

39,510

Environmental liabilities

9,129

9,155

Other pension and benefit costs

20,662

21,000

Other liabilities

2,484

2,477

Total deferred credits and other liabilities

218,939

219,215

Total Capitalization and Liabilities

$

842,561

$

837,522

 

Chesapeake Utilities Corporation and Subsidiaries

Distribution Utility Statistical Data (Unaudited)

For the Three Months Ended March 31, 2014

For the Three Months Ended March 31, 2013

Delmarva NG Distribution(2)

Chesapeake Florida NG Division

FPU NG Distribution

FPU Electric Distribution

Delmarva NG Distribution

Chesapeake Florida NG Division

FPU NG Distribution

FPU Electric Distribution

Operating Revenues

(in thousands)

Residential

$

33,728

$

1,437

$

7,986

$

11,553

$

23,193

$

1,336

$

7,256

$

9,980

Commercial

15,648

1,233

9,564

8,611

10,047

1,195

9,386

8,452

Industrial

1,536

1,294

3,443

1,432

1,760

1,278

3,295

1,728

  Other (1)

290

836

655

(3,288)

221

633

(1,674)

(1,634)

Total Operating Revenues

$

51,202

$

4,800

$

21,648

$

18,308

$

35,221

$

4,442

$

18,263

$

18,526

Volume (in Dts/MWHs)

Residential

2,158,586

136,657

484,158

84,491

1,649,772

126,837

447,216

69,775

Commercial

1,689,871

405,699

812,786

71,804

1,380,683

408,980

831,983

66,911

Industrial

1,174,193

3,728,145

1,116,381

9,630

1,130,541

3,916,816

1,203,790

11,220

Other

6,529

(30,003)

(12,366)

5,652

(34,316)

2,742

Total

5,029,179

4,270,501

2,383,322

153,559

4,166,648

4,452,633

2,448,673

150,648

Average Customers

Residential

62,705

14,349

50,713

23,816

51,241

13,960

49,179

23,667

Commercial

6,601

1,346

4,597

7,416

5,409

1,275

4,631

7,391

Industrial

108

61

1,039

2

101

58

844

2

Other

7

3

Total

69,421

15,756

56,349

31,234

56,754

15,293

54,654

31,060

(1)

Operating Revenues from "Other" sources include unbilled revenue, under (over) recoveries of fuel cost, conservation revenue, other miscellaneous charges, fees for billing services provided to third parties and adjustments for pass-through taxes.

(2)

Sandpiper is now included within the Delmarva NG Distribution results, which also includes the Delaware and Maryland Divisions.

 

 

SOURCE Chesapeake Utilities Corporation



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