Northwest Natural Gas Company Reports Second Quarter and Year-to-Date 2017 Results
Consolidated net income was $43.0 million, or $1.50 per share, for the first six months of 2017, compared to net income of $38.7 million, or $1.40 per share, for the same period of 2016. Results for the first six months of 2016 included a non-cash disallowance related to the Company's environmental regulatory proceeding and the implementation of the environmental recovery mechanism. Excluding this charge(1) on a non-GAAP basis, EPS for the first six months of 2016 was $1.47 on net income of $40.7 million.
As a reminder, the utility's earnings are seasonal with the majority of its revenues generated during the winter heating season in the first and fourth quarters each year. Overall results for 2017 reflected higher utility segment earnings including additional margin from customer growth and cooler weather in 2017 compared to 2016. These favorable trends were offset by lower gas storage segment earnings primarily from decreased asset management revenues at Mist.
"Results for the quarter were solid. Customer growth continued to increase driven by a good economy, continued conversions, and increased success in the multifamily sector," said David H. Anderson, President and CEO of NW Natural. "We continued to make good progress on the construction of our North Mist Gas Storage Expansion Project — one of the largest projects in our Company's history and a very unique facility that will help facilitate the region's transition to a lower carbon future."
Construction Continues on North Mist Gas Storage Expansion Project
The North Mist Expansion Project is designed to provide long-term, no-notice underground gas storage service to support gas-fired electric generating facilities that are intended to facilitate the integration of more wind power into the region's electric generation mix. Natural gas storage enables electric generation to adjust quickly when renewable energy — like wind and solar — rises and falls. Our no-notice service is designed to allow the local electric company to draw on our North Mist facility to meet its fueling needs and rapidly respond to natural variability in wind generation.
The project remains on track to be in-service for the winter of 2018 with the heaviest construction phase occurring this year. In July we completed drilling all wells, and the compressor station is currently being assembled and tested in preparation for installation later this fall. Finally, construction continues on the 13-mile pipeline connecting the North Mist facility to Portland General Electric's Port Westward electric generating facility with construction expected to be completed later this fall. The estimated cost of the expansion remains at $128 million. The expansion will be rate-based under an established tariff when it is placed into service.
(1) Non-GAAP measure, see reconciliation below.
Second Quarter Results
The following financial comparisons are between the second quarter of 2017 and second quarter of 2016, unless otherwise noted. Individual factors below are presented on an after-tax basis using a statutory tax rate of 39.5%.
Consolidated net income increased $0.7 million or $0.03 per share primarily due to higher utility segment results from customer growth and cooler weather in 2017. Offsetting these favorable variances were lower results from our gas storage segment, which reported lower asset management revenues from Mist.
The second quarter results are summarized in the table below:
|Three Months Ended June 30,|
|In thousands, except per share data||Amount||Per Share||Amount||Per Share||Amount||Per Share|
|Gas storage segment||756||0.03||1,439||0.05||(683||)||(0.02||)|
|Consolidated net income||$||2,729||$||0.10||$||2,019||$||0.07||$||710||$||0.03|
Utility Segment Results
Utility segment net income increased $1.6 million or $0.05 per share due to the following offsetting items:
- a $3.1 million increase in utility margin reflecting strong customer growth and cooler weather in 2017. Weather for the second quarter of 2017 was 1% warmer than average, compared to 42% warmer than average weather for the same period in 2016; offset by
- a $1.2 million increase in operations and maintenance expense reflecting higher payroll and benefits due to increased headcount, general salary increases, and higher health care costs.
Gas Storage Segment Results
Gas storage segment net income decreased $0.7 million or $0.02 per share primarily due to the following factors:
- a $0.5 million decrease in gas storage primarily from lower asset management revenues from our Mist facility and transportation capacity; and
- a $0.2 million increase in operating expenses from pipeline and compressor maintenance at our Gill Ranch facility.
The following financial comparisons are between the first six months of 2017 and the same period of 2016, unless otherwise noted. Individual factors below are presented on an after-tax basis using a statutory tax rate of 39.5%.
Consolidated net income increased $4.4 million or $0.10 per share primarily due to higher utility segment results from customer growth and the effects of a colder winter in 2017. In addition, 2016 results were negatively impacted by a non-cash disallowance recorded during the first quarter of 2016 related to the Company's environmental regulatory proceeding and the implementation of the environmental recovery mechanism. Offsetting these favorable variances were lower results from our gas storage segment reflecting decreased asset management revenues from Mist.
The year-to-date results are summarized in the table below:
|Six Months Ended June 30,|
|In thousands, except per share data||Amount||Per Share||Amount||Per Share||Amount||Per Share|
|Gas storage segment||817||0.03||2,175||0.08||(1,358||)||(0.05||)|
|Consolidated net income (GAAP)||$||43,039||$||1.50||$||38,660||$||1.40||$||4,379||$||0.10|
|Adjustment for regulatory environmental disallowance(1)||—||—||1,996||0.07||(1,996||)||(0.07||)|
|Adjusted net income (non-GAAP)(1)||$||43,039||$||1.50||$||40,656||$||1.47||$||2,383||$||0.03|
(1) The 2016 disallowance related to the Company's compliance filing under the environmental recovery mechanism with the total pre-tax charge of $3.3 million recorded in utility other income ($2.8 million) and utility operation and maintenance expense ($0.5 million). The income tax effect of the adjustment was $1.3 million and is calculated using the combined federal and state statutory tax rate of 39.5%.
Utility Segment Results
Utility segment net income increased $6.0 million or $0.15 per share primarily due to the following offsetting items:
- a $6.4 million increase in utility margin reflecting strong customer growth and the effects of a colder winter in 2017. Weather for the first six months of 2017 was 44% colder than 2016 and 12% colder than average. Offsetting these factors were lower gains from our gas cost incentive sharing mechanism in Oregon;
- a $2.1 million increase in other income mainly due to the environmental interest disallowance in the first quarter of 2016 as a result of closing out the environmental docket and implementing the environmental recovery mechanism; offset by
- a $1.7 million increase in operations and maintenance expense reflecting higher payroll and benefits due to increased headcount, general salary increases, and higher health care costs; and
- a $1.1 million increase in depreciation expense due to planned capital expenditures for system reinforcement, facilities, and technology.
Gas Storage Segment Results
Gas storage segment net income decreased $1.4 million or $0.05 per share primarily due to the following factors:
- a $1.0 million decrease in gas storage revenues reflecting lower asset management revenues from our Mist facility and transportation capacity; and
- a $0.4 million increase in operating expenses from pipeline and compressor maintenance at our Gill Ranch facility.
Balance Sheet and Cash Flows
During the first six months of 2017, the Company generated $194.2 million in operating cash flow, invested $94.3 million in capital expenditures, reduced short-term debt by $53.3 million, and paid dividends of $26.9 million.
Cash provided by operations was enhanced by higher customer receipts due to the comparatively colder weather especially in the first quarter of 2017 offset by higher gas purchases. Cash outflows from investing activities increased $35.0 million in the first six months of 2017 compared to the same period in 2016 primarily due to higher capital expenditures from the North Mist Gas Storage Expansion Project. Cash outflows from financing activities decreased $56.4 million primarily due to lower short-term debt and commercial paper balances and repayments.
2017 Earnings Guidance
The Company reaffirmed 2017 earnings guidance today in the range of $2.05 to $2.25 per share. This guidance assumes customer growth from our utility segment, average weather conditions, slow recovery of the gas storage market, and no significant changes in prevailing regulatory policies, mechanisms, or outcomes, or significant laws or regulations.
The board of directors of NW Natural declared a quarterly dividend of 47 cents per share on the Company’s common stock. The dividend will be paid on August 15, 2017 to shareholders of record on July 31, 2017. The Company’s indicated annual dividend rate is $1.88 per share.
Conference Call and Webcast
As previously reported, NW Natural will host a conference call and webcast today to discuss its second quarter and year-to-date 2017 financial and operating results.
|Date and Time:||Wednesday, August 2|
|8 a.m. PT (11 a.m. ET)|
|Phone Numbers:||United States:||1-866-267-6789|
The call will also be webcast in a listen-only format for the media and general public and can be accessed at nwnatural.com under the Investor Relations tab. A replay of the conference call will be available on our website and by dialing 1-877-344-7529 (U.S.), 1-855-669-9658 (Canada), and 1-412-317-0088 (international). The replay access code is (10110143).
About NW Natural
NW Natural (NYSE:NWN) is headquartered in Portland, Ore., and provides natural gas service to more than 730,000 residential, commercial, and industrial customers in western Oregon and southwestern Washington. NW Natural and its subsidiaries currently own and operate 31 Bcf of underground gas storage capacity in Oregon and California. Additional information is available at nwnatural.com.
Presentation of Non-GAAP Results
In addition to presenting the results of operations and earnings amounts in total, certain financial measures exclude the after-tax regulatory charge related to the regulatory order implementing the SRRM in 2016, which are non-GAAP financial measures. We present net income and EPS excluding the regulatory disallowance along with the GAAP measures to illustrate the magnitude of this disallowance on ongoing business and operational results. Although the excluded amounts are properly included in the determination of these items under GAAP, we believe the amount and nature of such disallowance make period to period comparisons of operations difficult or potentially confusing. Financial measures are expressed in cents per share as these amounts reflect factors that directly impact earnings, including income taxes. All references to EPS are on the basis of diluted shares. We use such non-GAAP financial measures to analyze our financial performance because we believe they provide useful information to our investors and creditors in evaluating our financial condition and results of operations.
|Consolidated Income Statement and Financial Highlights (Unaudited)|
|Second Quarter 2017|
|Three Months Ended||Six Months Ended||Twelve Months Ended|
|In thousands, except per share amounts, customer, and degree day data||June 30,||June 30,||June 30,|
|Cost of gas||53,005||20,871||154||196,616||129,282||52||327,922||268,706||22|
|Operations and maintenance||38,546||35,962||7||78,966||74,901||5||154,039||142,995||8|
|Depreciation and amortization||21,355||20,413||5||42,440||40,807||4||83,922||81,389||3|
|Total operating expenses||123,081||86,577||42||344,176||268,034||28||612,829||533,547||15|
|Income from operations||13,157||12,606||4||89,385||86,678||3||141,987||145,011||(2||)|
|Other income (expense), net||958||513||87||1,839||(1,796||)||(202||)||3,092||(233||)||(1,427||)|
|Interest expense, net||9,717||9,718||—||19,593||19,454||1||39,267||41,074||(4||)|
|Income before income taxes||4,398||3,401||29||71,631||65,428||9||105,812||103,704||2|
|Income tax expense||1,669||1,382||21||28,592||26,768||7||42,538||42,024||1|
|Common shares outstanding:|
|Average diluted for period||28,717||27,632||28,722||27,591||28,322||27,519|
|End of period||28,662||27,550||28,662||27,550||28,662||27,550|
|Per share information:|
|Diluted earnings per share||$||0.10||$||0.07||$||1.50||$||1.40||$||2.23||$||2.24|
|Dividends declared per share of common stock||0.47||0.4675||0.94||0.9350||1.8775||1.8675|
|Book value per share, end of period||30.19||29.04||30.19||29.04||30.19||29.04|
|Market closing price, end of period||59.85||64.82||59.85||64.82||59.85||64.82|
|Capital structure, end of period:|
|Common stock equity||54.6||%||51.7||%||54.6||%||51.7||%||54.6||%||51.7||%|
|Short-term debt (including amounts due in one year)||3.9||11.5||3.9||11.5||%||3.9||11.5||%|
|Utility segment operating statistics:|
|Customers - end of period||730,968||718,191||1.8||%||730,968||718,191||1.8||%||730,968||718,191||1.8||%|
|Utility volumes - therms:|
|Residential and commercial sales||113,869||82,625||441,392||325,499||725,115||592,344|
|Industrial sales and transportation||120,774||110,308||260,890||239,983||496,681||463,887|
|Total utility volumes sold and delivered||234,643||192,933||702,282||565,482||1,221,796||1,056,231|
|Utility operating revenues:|
|Residential and commercial sales||$||117,296||$||82,509||$||397,573||$||320,181||$||681,782||$||606,185|
|Industrial sales and transportation||14,791||10,972||33,694||28,636||64,444||62,467|
|Less: Revenue taxes||3,160||2,448||10,989||9,091||19,009||17,290|
|Total utility operating revenues||130,095||92,135||422,821||342,239||731,059||655,252|
|Less: Cost of gas||53,005||20,871||196,616||129,282||327,922||268,706|
|Environmental remediation expense||2,611||1,893||9,565||6,922||15,941||10,435|
|Utility margin, net||$||74,479||$||69,371||$||216,640||$||206,035||$||387,196||$||376,111|
|Average (25-year average)||691||691||2,546||2,562||4,240||4,256|
|Percent (warmer) colder than average weather||(1||)%||(42||)%||12||%||(22||)%||4||%||(19||)%|
|Gas storage segment operating statistics:|
|Consolidated Balance Sheets (Unaudited)||June 30,|
|Cash and cash equivalents||$||20,854||$||5,463|
|Accrued unbilled revenue||13,896||14,175|
|Allowance for uncollectible accounts||(845||)||(570||)|
|Other current assets||13,419||21,312|
|Total current assets||192,004||202,060|
|Property, plant, and equipment||3,333,668||3,146,631|
|Less: Accumulated depreciation||973,084||932,179|
|Total property, plant, and equipment, net||2,360,584||2,214,452|
|Other non-current assets||3,215||1,968|
|Total non-current assets||2,873,150||2,741,084|
|Liabilities and equity:|
|Current maturities of long-term debt||61,991||24,987|
|Other current liabilities||31,683||35,289|
|Total current liabilities||235,082||313,633|
|Deferred credits and other non-current liabilities:|
|Deferred tax liabilities||577,176||554,400|
|Pension and other postretirement benefit liabilities||219,718||219,049|
|Other non-current liabilities||146,960||144,285|
|Total deferred credits and other non-current liabilities||1,306,525||1,259,467|
|Accumulated other comprehensive loss||(6,678||)||(6,825||)|
|Total liabilities and equity||$||3,065,154||$||2,943,144|
|Consolidated Statements of Cash Flows (Unaudited)||Six Months Ended June 30,|
|Adjustments to reconcile net income to cash provided by operations:|
|Depreciation and amortization||42,440||40,807|
|Regulatory amortization of gas reserves||8,031||7,647|
|Deferred income taxes||22,170||27,022|
|Qualified defined benefit pension plan expense||2,615||2,737|
|Contributions to qualified defined benefit pension plans||(7,250||)||(6,120||)|
|Deferred environmental (expenditures) recoveries, net||(6,817||)||(5,521||)|
|Regulatory disallowance of prior environmental cost deferrals||—||3,273|
|Amortization of environmental remediation||9,565||6,922|
|Changes in assets and liabilities:|
|Deferred gas costs||15,325||(9,295||)|
|Cash provided by operating activities||194,231||199,560|
|Cash used in investing activities||(94,722||)||(59,700||)|
|Repurchases related to stock-based compensation||(2,034||)||(1,042||)|
|Proceeds from stock options exercised||1,309||5,374|
|Change in short-term debt||(53,300||)||(117,235||)|
|Cash dividend payments on common stock||(26,919||)||(25,677||)|
|Cash used in financing activities||(82,176||)||(138,608||)|
|Increase in cash and cash equivalents||17,333||1,252|
|Cash and cash equivalents, beginning of period||3,521||4,211|
|Cash and cash equivalents, end of period||$||20,854||$||5,463|
|Supplemental disclosure of cash flow information:|
|Interest paid, net of capitalization||$||18,011||$||18,124|
|Income taxes paid (refunded)||9,081||(7,900||)|