CHARLOTTE, N.C., Nov. 1, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Piedmont Natural Gas (NYSE: PNY) is initiating earnings guidance in the range of $1.73 - $1.83 per diluted share for its fiscal year ending October 31, 2014. This guidance for fiscal year 2014 reflects the following assumptions:
- Higher utility margin due to:
- The settlement of a North Carolina rate case, which is pending before the North Carolina Utilities Commission (NCUC);
- An Integrity Management Rider (IMR) in North Carolina, which is pending before the NCUC as part of the North Carolina rate case settlement;
- An IMR in Tennessee, which is pending before the Tennessee Regulatory Authority;
- Gross utility customer additions of about 1.5% in the Company's three state market area; and
- The full year impact of the Sutton power generation delivery project that went into service in fiscal year 2013.
- Higher Operations and Maintenance (O&M) expense of about 3% due to increased regulatory asset amortizations under the North Carolina rate case settlement and higher utility operations expense to support pipeline integrity, safety and compliance programs.
- Higher depreciation expense due to additional utility plant in service, partially offset by lower depreciation rates under the North Carolina rate case settlement.
- Increased contributions from joint venture equity method investments as a result of SouthStar's expansion into Illinois, increased Allowance for Funds Used During Construction (AFUDC) at Constitution Pipeline, and the full-year impact of a higher ownership percentage of Pine Needle LNG.
- Capital expenditures in the range of $425 - $475 million, including approximately $250 million related to system integrity projects, as well as an additional $55 million to fund the Company's joint venture equity interest in the Constitution Pipeline project.
- Lower AFUDC of about $12 million reflecting forecasted capital expenditure levels and project schedules.
- Higher interest expense primarily due to the full-year impact of the Company's $300 million long-term debt issuance in fiscal year 2013.
- The issuance of new long-term debt and equity capital over fiscal years 2014 and 2015, at such amounts to support the Company's capital investment program and maintain the Company's long term targeted capital ratios of 45% - 50% long-term debt and 50% - 55% equity.
Forward-Looking Statement This press release contains forward-looking statements. These statements are based on management's current expectations and information currently available and are believed to be reasonable and are made in good faith. However, the forward-looking statements are subject to future events, risks, uncertainties and other factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those projected in the statements. Factors that may make the actual results differ from anticipated results include, but are not limited to, weather conditions, rate of customer growth, the cost and availability of natural gas, competition from other energy providers, new legislation and regulations and application of existing laws and regulations, economic and capital market conditions, the cost and availability of labor and materials and other uncertainties, all of which are difficult to predict and some of which are beyond our control. For these reasons, you should not place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements when making investment decisions. The words "expect," "believe," "project," "anticipate," "intend," "should," "could," "assume," "can," "estimate," "forecast," "future," "indicate," "outlook," "plan," "predict," "seek," "target," "would," "guidance," and variations of such words and similar expressions are intended to identify forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements are only as of the date they are made and we do not undertake any obligation to update publicly any forward-looking statement, either as a result of new information, future events or otherwise. More information about the risks and uncertainties relating to these forward-looking statements may be found in Piedmont's latest Forms 10-K and 10-Q, which are available on the SEC's website at http://www.sec.gov.
About Piedmont Natural Gas Piedmont Natural Gas is an energy services company primarily engaged in the distribution of natural gas to more than one million residential, commercial, industrial and power generation utility customers in portions of North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee, including customers served by municipalities who are wholesale customers. Our subsidiaries are invested in joint venture, energy-related businesses, including unregulated retail natural gas marketing, and regulated interstate natural gas transportation and storage and intrastate natural gas transportation businesses. More information about Piedmont Natural Gas is available on the Internet at http://www.piedmontng.com/.
SOURCE Piedmont Natural Gas