Unitil Reports Second Quarter Results
Hampton Union, Friday, July 30, 2010
[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]
HAMPTON, N.H., July 27 -- /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Unitil Corporation ("Company") (NYSE: UTL) (www.unitil.com) today announced a net loss of ($2.1) million for the second quarter of 2010, compared to earnings of $0.2 million for the second quarter of 2009. For the six months ended June 30, 2010, the Company reported net income of $4.4 million compared to $9.3 million for the same period of 2009. Results for the second quarter were driven primarily by higher depreciation and interest expense and lower gas sales margins due to warmer regional temperatures.
Earnings (loss) per common share (EPS) were ($0.19) and $0.41 for the three and six month periods ended June 30, 2010 compared with $0.03 and $1.10 for the same periods of 2009. The Company's results of operations for 2010 are not directly comparable with 2009 due to the issuance of 5.0 million common shares between December 2008 and June 2009 to complete the financing of the Company's acquisition of Northern Utilities Inc. (Northern Utilities) and Granite State Gas Transmission, Inc. (Granite), the ("Acquisition").
"2010 is an important transition year for the Company as we initiate the process of resetting rates in each of our regulatory jurisdictions," said Bob Schoenberger, Unitil's Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. "This regulatory agenda, which we expect to complete over the next twelve to eighteen months, will support our ongoing investment in the reliability and safety of our gas and electric distribution systems."
The Company filed two base rate cases in the second quarter of 2010, one for its New Hampshire electric distribution utility, Unitil Energy Systems, Inc. (Unitil Energy) and one for its natural gas pipeline subsidiary, Granite. The New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission has approved a temporary rate increase of $5.2 million on an annual basis, including recovery of 2008 ice storm costs, for Unitil Energy effective July 1, 2010. A decision from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Granite's request for an increase of approximately $3 million in annual revenues is expected in January 2011. Additionally, the Company's two other distribution utilities, Fitchburg Gas and Electric Light Company and Northern Utilities, are currently preparing base rate cases and anticipate filing them with their respective regulatory commissions within the next year.
Natural gas sales margin decreased $2.4 million and $3.8 million in the three and six months ended June 30, 2010, respectively, compared to the same periods in 2009. Total natural gas therm sales were 5.1% and 6.0% lower in the three and six month periods ended June 30, 2010, respectively, compared to the same periods in 2009. Lower gas therm sales in the Company's utility service territories reflect the effect of warmer temperatures in 2010, where there were approximately 22% and 12% fewer Heating Degree Days in the three and six month periods, respectively, compared to the prior year.
Electric sales margin increased $0.4 million and $0.1 million in the three and six months ended June 30, 2010 compared to the same periods in 2009, reflecting higher electric kilowatt-hour (kWh) sales. Total kWh sales increased 5.3% and 1.5% in the three and six months ended June 30, 2010, respectively, compared to the same periods in 2009 reflecting increased sales to all customer groups.