Piedmont Natural Gas Reports Third Quarter Results

Sep 09, 2011, 07:46 ET from Piedmont Natural Gas

CHARLOTTE, N.C., Sept. 9, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Charlotte-based Piedmont Natural Gas (NYSE: PNY) today announced results for its third quarter ended July 31, 2011.  For the quarter, the Company reported a seasonal loss of $8.7 million or ($.12) per diluted share compared with a loss of $9.5 million or ($.13) per diluted share for the same period in 2010.    

For the nine months ended July 31, 2011, net income was $123.1 million and diluted earnings per share were $1.70, compared with net income of $151.1 million and diluted earnings per share of $2.08 for the same period in 2010 which included the sale of one-half of the Company's then-current 30% ownership interest in SouthStar Energy Services.

Utility margin increased by $4.1 million for the third quarter and by $15.4 million for the nine months ended July 31, 2011 compared to the same periods in 2010.  The increase in margin is primarily due to increases in volumes and services to industrial and power generation customers, adjustments to regulatory gas cost accounts and for the nine months, residential growth and wholesale marketing activity.

Operations and maintenance expenses decreased by $1.9 million for the third quarter and by $1.5 million for the nine months ended July 31, 2011, compared to the same periods in 2010. For the three months ended July 31, 2011, the decrease in O&M expenses is primarily due to lower payroll and contract labor. For the nine months ended July 31, 2011, the decrease in O&M expenses is primarily due to lower payroll and lower utility expenses, partially offset by increased vehicle and transportation expenses.

Pre-tax income from equity method investments was $2.4 million for the three months ended July 31, 2011, compared with $2.6 million for the same period in 2010. For the nine months ended July 31, 2011, pre-tax income from equity method investments was $22.5 million compared with $27.7 million for the same period in 2010. The decrease in both periods was primarily due to a decrease in earnings from SouthStar and for the nine month period to the recording of earnings and losses at the after-sale ownership percentage of 15%.

FISCAL 2011 EARNINGS GUIDANCE REAFFIRMED

Piedmont Natural Gas reaffirms its fiscal year 2011 earnings guidance of $1.50 to $1.60 per diluted share.

Conference Call

In conjunction with this third-quarter earnings release, you are invited to listen to the conference call that will be broadcast live over the Internet on Friday, September 9, 2011, at 9:30 a.m. Eastern Time, hosted by Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer Thomas E. Skains.  Log on to the web at www.piedmontng.com and click on Investors, then on Presentations.  The conference call will be archived on the Presentations page of the website within the Investors section.

Piedmont Natural Gas Company, Inc.

Summary of Operations

(in thousands except per share amounts and degree days)

Three Months Ended

July 31

% Increase

2011

2010

(Decrease)

(Unaudited)

(Unaudited)

Operating Revenues

$197,274

$211,603

(7)%

Cost of Gas

115,311

133,706

(14)%

Margin

81,963

77,897

5%

Operations and Maintenance Expenses

53,351

55,295

(4)%

Depreciation

26,128

24,691

6%

General Taxes

9,206

8,753

5%

Utility Income Taxes

(7,111)

(7,371)

4%

Operating Income (Loss)

389

(3,471)

111%

Other Income (Expense), net

2,286

1,791

28%

Utility Interest Charges

11,378

7,838

45%

Net Loss

(8,703)

(9,518)

9%

Average Shares of Common Stock:

    Basic

72,007

71,968

-   %

    Diluted

72,007

71,968

-   %

Earnings Per Share of Common Stock:

    Basic

($0.12)

($0.13)

8%

    Diluted

($0.12)

($0.13)

8%

System Throughput - Dekatherms

60,243

52,897

14%

Gas Customers Billed in July

960

955

1 %

System Average Degree Days - Actual

58

24

142%

System Average Degree Days - Normal

50

51

(2)%

Percent Normal Degree Days

116%

47%

-

Nine Months Ended

July 31

% Increase

2011

2010

(Decrease)

(Unaudited)

(Unaudited)

Operating Revenues

$1,241,897

$1,358,185

(9)%

Cost of Gas

756,997

888,667

(15)%

Margin

484,900

469,518

3%

Operations and Maintenance Expenses

163,344

164,838

(1)%

Depreciation

76,601

73,529

4%

General Taxes

29,767

26,096

14%

Utility Income Taxes

71,003

68,499

4%

Operating Income

144,185

136,556

6%

Other Income (Expense)

14,219

46,653

(70)%

Utility Interest Charges

35,259

32,152

10%

Net Income

$123,145

$151,057

(19)%

Average Shares of Common Stock:

    Basic

72,010

72,315

-   %

    Diluted

72,235

72,668

(1) %

Earnings Per Share of Common Stock:

    Basic

$1.71

$2.09

(18)%

    Diluted

$1.70

$2.08

(18)%

System Throughput - Dekatherms

223,663

204,306

10%

Gas Customers Billed in July

960

955

1%

System Average Degree Days - Actual

3,410

3,393

1%

System Average Degree Days - Normal

3,115

3,116

-   %

Percent Normal Degree Days

110%

109%

-   

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 rely on these forward-looking statements when making investment decisions. The words "expect," "believe," "project," "anticipate," "intend," "should," "could," "will," "assume," "can," "estimate," "forecast," "future," "indicate," "outlook," "plan," "predict," "seek," "target," "would," 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 and industrial utility customers in North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee, including 52,000 customers served by municipalities who are wholesale customers. Our subsidiaries are invested in joint venture, energy-related businesses, including unregulated retail natural gas marketing, interstate natural gas storage and intrastate natural gas transportation. More information about Piedmont Natural Gas is available on the Internet at http://www.piedmontng.com/.

SOURCE Piedmont Natural Gas



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