Piedmont Natural Gas Reports Results for Fiscal Year 2014

Dec 23, 2014, 16:23 ET from Piedmont Natural Gas

CHARLOTTE, N.C., Dec. 23, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Piedmont Natural Gas (NYSE: PNY) today announced results for its fiscal year ended October 31, 2014. For the year, the Company reported net income of $143.8 million, or $1.84 per diluted share, compared with net income of $134.4 million, or $1.78 per diluted share for 2013.

Commenting on the Company's fiscal year 2014 results, Piedmont Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer, Thomas E. Skains said, "We are pleased with our results in 2014.  In addition to our strong financial performance, we generated demand growth for natural gas in our three-state service area through the addition of 16,251 new customers, up 14 percent from our customer additions in 2013. Also, for the third year in a row, our investment in support of utility customer growth, system integrity management programs, and non-utility joint venture opportunities exceeded $.5 billion.  Our customer service performance continued to improve in 2014 with national residential customer satisfaction surveys ranking our customer contact center and field customer service performance second and third, respectively, among more than 80 natural gas utilities surveyed.  As we look ahead to 2015, these results provide a strong foundation for continued growth and performance."

System throughput in 2014 totaled 410.7 million dekatherms, up 6% from 387.6 million dekatherms in 2013. Weather during 2014 was 9 percent colder than normal and 6 percent colder than 2013.

Margin was $690.2 million, an increase of $68.7 million from the prior year. The increase in margin is primarily attributable to increased volume deliveries in the South Carolina and Tennessee retail markets due to colder weather, regulatory rate adjustments, customer growth, increased transportation services in the power generation markets, and higher margin sales from secondary market activity.

Operations and maintenance expenses increased $17.8 million from the previous year primarily due to increases in payroll, approved amortization of regulatory assets, a higher level of bad debt from colder weather and greater customer consumption and contract labor.

Utility interest charges were $54.7 million in 2014 compared to $25 million in 2013. The increase was primarily due to a decrease in capitalized interest as a result of lower utility project construction expenditures, an increase in interest expense on amounts due to customers and increases in long-term debt expense due to higher amounts outstanding.

Pre-tax income from equity method investments was $32.8 million in 2014 compared with $26.1 million in 2013. The increase was primarily due to improved performance at SouthStar from the expansion of the business into Illinois markets and colder weather across its market area, partially offset by higher operating and general and administrative expenses.

FISCAL 2015 EARNINGS GUIDANCE REAFFIRMED

Piedmont Natural Gas reaffirms its fiscal year 2015 earnings guidance of $1.82 to $1.92 per diluted share.

DIVIDEND

At its regular quarterly meeting of the Company's Board of Directors on December 12, 2014, Piedmont Natural Gas announced the declaration of a quarterly dividend on Common Stock of 32 cents per share, payable on January 15, 2015 to holders of record at the close of business on December 24, 2014.

CONFERENCE CALL

In conjunction with this year-end earnings release, you are invited to listen to the conference call that will be broadcast live over the Internet on Monday, January 5, 2015 at 10 a.m. Eastern Time, hosted by Chairman, President and CEO Thomas E. Skains. Log onto the web at www.piedmontng.com and click on Investor Relations, then on Presentations. The conference call will be archived on the Presentation page of the website within the Investor Relations section.

 

Summary of Operations








(in thousands except per share amounts and degree days)














Twelve Months Ended


October 31


% Increase



2014



2013



(Decrease)











Operating Revenues


$

1,469,988



$

1,278,229



15

%

Cost of Gas


779,780



656,739



19

%

Margin


690,208



621,490



11

%

Operations and Maintenance Expenses


270,877



253,120



7

%

Depreciation


118,996



112,207



6

%

General Taxes


37,294



34,635



8

%

Utility Income Taxes


83,176



77,334



8

%

Operating Income


179,865



144,194



25

%

Other Income (Expense), net


18,622



15,161



23

%

Utility Interest Charges


54,686



24,938



119

%

Net Income


143,801



134,417



7

%











Average Shares of Common Stock:










    Basic


77,883



74,884



4

%

    Diluted


78,193



75,333



4

%

Earnings Per Share of Common Stock:










    Basic


$

1.85



$

1.80



3

%

    Diluted


$

1.84



$

1.78



3

%

System Throughput - Dekatherms


410,702



387,600



6

%

Gas Customers Billed in October


993



980



1

%

System Average Degree Days - Actual


3,543



3,336



6

%

System Average Degree Days - Normal


3,265



3,276



%

Percent Normal Degree Days


109

%


102

%
























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," "may," "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, 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 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, regulated interstate natural gas transportation and storage, and regulated 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



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