November 9, 2016 - 5:06 PM EST
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Atmos Energy Corporation Reports Earnings for Fiscal 2016 and Initiates Fiscal 2017 Guidance; Raises Dividend 7.1 Percent

Atmos Energy Corporation (NYSE: ATO) today reported consolidated results for its 2016 fiscal year and fourth quarter ended September 30, 2016.

  • Fiscal 2016 consolidated net income was $350.1 million, or $3.38 per diluted share, compared with consolidated net income of $315.1 million, or $3.09 per diluted share in the prior year.
  • Fiscal 2016 consolidated net income, excluding net unrealized margins, was $349.3 million, or $3.37 per diluted share, compared with consolidated net income, excluding net unrealized margins of $316.5 million, or $3.10 per diluted share in the prior year.
  • Fiscal 2016 net income includes a $5.0 million, or $0.05 per diluted share, income tax benefit as a result of adopting new stock-based accounting guidance for equity awards.
  • Capital expenditures were $1.1 billion for the year ended September 30, 2016, with over 80 percent of that spending related to system safety and reliability investments.
  • Atmos Energy expects fiscal 2017 earnings from continuing operations to be in the range of $3.45 to $3.65 per diluted share. Capital expenditures are expected to be in the range of $1.1 billion to $1.25 billion in fiscal 2017.
  • The company's Board of Directors has declared a quarterly dividend of $0.45 per common share. The indicated annual dividend for fiscal 2017 is $1.80, which represents a 7.1 percent increase over fiscal 2016.

For the quarter ended September 30, 2016, consolidated net income was $34.2 million, or $0.33 per diluted share, compared with net income of $23.5 million, or $0.23 per diluted share for the same quarter last year. Consolidated net income includes net unrealized losses of $7.0 million, or $(0.07) per diluted share for the quarter ended September 30, 2016, compared with net unrealized losses of $6.6 million, or $(0.06) per diluted share for the prior-year quarter.

“We are pleased to deliver solid earnings per share growth for the 14th consecutive year,” said Kim Cocklin, Chief Executive Officer of Atmos Energy Corporation. “We have continued to execute our growth strategy of infrastructure investment, which benefits our customers and provides an attractive return to our shareholders. In addition, we will further minimize our business risk upon the closing of the announced sale of our marketing business, which will result in Atmos Energy becoming a fully regulated, pure-play natural gas utility. Finally, we are well positioned to deliver earnings per diluted share of between $3.45 and $3.65 in fiscal 2017, which supports our commitment to deliver annual earnings per share growth in the six to eight percent range,” Cocklin concluded.

Results for the Fiscal Year Ended September 30, 2016

Regulated distribution gross profit increased $35.2 million to $1,272.8 million for the year ended September 30, 2016, compared with $1,237.6 million in the prior year. Gross profit reflects a net $47.5 million increase in rates, primarily in the Mid-Tex, Mississippi and West Texas Divisions. This increase was partially offset by a $15.4 million decrease in revenue-related taxes and a $3.4 million decrease in consumption. Weather was 25 percent warmer than the prior year, before adjusting for weather normalization mechanisms, which resulted in a 17 percent decrease in sales volumes.

Regulated pipeline gross profit increased $38.7 million to $408.8 million for the year ended September 30, 2016, compared with $370.1 million in the prior year. This increase primarily reflects a $39.6 million increase in revenue from the Gas Reliability Infrastructure Program (GRIP) filings approved in 2016 and 2015. This increase was partially offset by decreased through-system volumes and lower storage and blending fees due to warmer weather in the current year.

Nonregulated gross profit decreased $9.1 million to $63.8 million for the year ended September 30, 2016, compared with $72.9 million for the prior year, as a result of a $12.7 million decrease in realized margins, partially offset by a $3.7 million increase in unrealized margins. The year-over-year decrease in realized margins reflects larger settlement losses incurred during the first six months of the year during a period of falling natural gas prices, partially offset by gains realized during the third and fourth quarters. Additionally, storage fees rose primarily due to increased park and loan activity in the current year.

Consolidated operation and maintenance expense for the year ended September 30, 2016, was $560.8 million, compared with $541.9 million for the prior-year period. This increase was primarily driven by increased pipeline maintenance spending and legal expenses.

Income tax expense for the year ended September 30, 2016 includes a $5.0 million benefit as a result of adopting new stock-based accounting guidance related to equity awards that vested during the current year.

Capital expenditures increased to $1,087.0 million for the year ended September 30, 2016, compared with $963.6 million in the prior year driven by a planned increase in spending in the company's regulated operations.

For the year ended September 30, 2016, the company generated operating cash flow of $795.0 million, a $16.9 million decrease compared with the year ended September 30, 2015. The year-over-year decrease primarily reflects the timing of deferred gas cost recoveries.

The debt capitalization ratio at September 30, 2016 was 48.5 percent, compared with 47.5 percent at September 30, 2015. At September 30, 2016, there was $829.8 million of short-term debt outstanding, compared with $457.9 million at September 30, 2015. Short-term debt balances fluctuate due to the seasonal nature of the natural gas business and the timing of spending year over year.

Results for the Quarter Ended September 30, 2016

Regulated distribution gross profit increased $14.3 million to $254.8 million for the fiscal 2016 fourth quarter, compared with $240.5 million in the prior-year quarter. Gross profit reflects a net $10.3 million increase in rates across all divisions. Additionally, higher customer counts primarily in the Mid-Tex, Louisiana and Kentucky Mid-States Divisions increased gross profit $1.7 million.

Regulated pipeline gross profit increased $11.4 million to $109.2 million for the quarter ended September 30, 2016, compared with $97.8 million for the same quarter last year. This increase is primarily the result of an $11.2 million increase in revenues from the GRIP filing that became effective in fiscal 2016.

Nonregulated gross profit decreased $4.0 million to $12.1 million for the fiscal 2016 fourth quarter, compared with $16.1 million for the prior-year quarter, as a result of a $3.4 million decrease in realized margins, combined with a $0.6 million decrease in unrealized margins. The quarter-over-quarter decrease in realized margins reflects the timing and magnitude of gains on financial positions combined with increased storage fees.

Consolidated operation and maintenance expense for the quarter September 30, 2016, was $164.8 million, compared with $157.4 million for the prior-year quarter. This increase was primarily driven by increased pipeline maintenance spending.

Outlook

The leadership of Atmos Energy remains focused on enhancing system safety and reliability through infrastructure investment while delivering shareholder value and consistent earnings growth. Atmos Energy expects fiscal 2017 earnings from continuing operations to be in the range of $3.45 to $3.65 per diluted share. Net income from continuing operations is expected to be in the range of $365 million to $390 million. Capital expenditures for fiscal 2017 are expected to range between $1.1 billion and $1.25 billion.

Conference Call to be Webcast November 10, 2016

Atmos Energy will host a conference call with financial analysts to discuss the fiscal 2016 financial results and outline the assumptions supporting the fiscal 2017 guidance on Thursday, November 10, 2016, at 10:00 a.m. Eastern Time. The domestic telephone number is 877-485-3107 and the international telephone number is 201-689-8427. Kim Cocklin, chief executive officer, Mike Haefner, president and chief operating officer, Bret Eckert, senior vice president and chief financial officer, along with other members of the leadership team, will participate in the conference call. The conference call will be webcast live on the Atmos Energy website at www.atmosenergy.com. A playback of the call will be available on the website later that day.

Highlights and Recent Developments

Senior Management Retirement

On November 3, 2016, Atmos Energy announced the retirement of Marvin L. Sweetin, Senior Vice President, Safety and Enterprise Services, effective December 31, 2016. Sweetin's successor will be named before his departure.

Sale of Atmos Energy Marketing

On October 31, 2016, Atmos Energy announced the execution of a definitive agreement to sell all of the equity interests in Atmos Energy Marketing, LLC (AEM) to CenterPoint Energy Services, Inc., an indirect wholly-owned subsidiary of CenterPoint Energy, Inc. The transaction includes the transfer of about 800 delivered gas customers and AEM's related asset optimization business at an all cash price of $40.0 million, plus working capital at the date of closing. No material gain or loss is currently anticipated in connection with the closing of this transaction. The proceeds from this transaction will be redeployed to fund infrastructure investment in the regulated business. Upon completion of the sale, Atmos Energy will have fully exited the nonregulated gas marketing business.

Election of Director

Effective November 1, 2016, Kelly H. Compton was elected to the Board of Directors of the company. Ms. Compton has served as Executive Director of the Hoglund Foundation since 1992. Prior to joining the Hoglund Foundation, she served as Vice President of Commercial Lending for NationsBank Texas and its predecessors for 13 years. Compton will serve on the board's Audit Committee and Human Resources Committee.

Senior Management Promotion

On October 28, 2016, Atmos Energy announced the promotion of David J. Park from President of the West Texas Division to Senior Vice President of Utility Operations, effective January 1, 2017. In his new role, Park will be responsible for the operations of Atmos Energy's six utility divisions in eight states, as well as gas supply.

Credit Facility Amended

On October 5, 2016, Atmos Energy amended its existing $1.25 billion revolving credit agreement (Credit Facility), primarily to increase the committed loan amount from $1.25 billion to $1.5 billion, while retaining the $250 million accordion feature that would allow an increase in the committed loan amount up to $1.75 billion. The Credit Facility was extended for one additional year to September 25, 2021, with all other terms remaining substantially the same.

This news release should be read in conjunction with the attached unaudited financial information.

Forward-Looking Statements

The matters discussed in this news release may contain “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. All statements other than statements of historical fact included in this news release are forward-looking statements made in good faith by the company and are intended to qualify for the safe harbor from liability established by the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. When used in this news release or in any of the company's other documents or oral presentations, the words “anticipate,” “believe,” “estimate,” “expect,” “forecast,” “goal,” “intend,” “objective,” “plan,” “projection,” “seek,” “strategy” or similar words are intended to identify forward-looking statements. Such forward-looking statements are subject to risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those discussed in this news release, including the risks and uncertainties relating to regulatory trends and decisions, the company's ability to continue to access the capital markets and the other factors discussed in the company's reports filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. These factors include the risks and uncertainties discussed in the company's Annual Report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2015 and in the company's Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q for the three and nine months ended June 30, 2016. Although the company believes these forward-looking statements to be reasonable, there can be no assurance that they will approximate actual experience or that the expectations derived from them will be realized. The company undertakes no obligation to update or revise forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.

Non-GAAP Financial Measures

The historical financial information in this news release utilizes certain financial measures that are not presented in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP). Specifically, in addition to presenting the traditional U.S. GAAP measures, historical net income and diluted earnings per share for the quarter and fiscal year periods are presented after excluding net unrealized margins on financial positions utilized in the Company's nonregulated operations. These non-GAAP financial measures are included because the Company believes they more accurately reflect the Company's financial performance since the net unrealized margins relate to positions that will settle in the future and are not necessarily indicative of the value of those positions when they are ultimately settled.

About Atmos Energy

Atmos Energy Corporation, headquartered in Dallas, is the country's largest natural-gas-only distributor, serving over three million natural gas distribution customers in over 1,400 communities in eight states from the Blue Ridge Mountains in the East to the Rocky Mountains in the West. Atmos Energy also manages company-owned natural gas pipeline and storage assets, including one of the largest intrastate natural gas pipeline systems in Texas and currently provides natural gas marketing and procurement services to industrial, commercial and municipal customers primarily in the Midwest and Southeast. For more information, visit www.atmosenergy.com.

   
 

Atmos Energy Corporation

Financial Highlights (Unaudited)

 

Statements of Income

Year Ended
September 30

(000s except per share) 2016     2015
Gross Profit:
Regulated distribution segment $ 1,272,805 $ 1,237,577
Regulated pipeline segment 408,833 370,112
Nonregulated segment 63,790 72,860
Intersegment eliminations   (532 )   (532 )
Gross profit 1,744,896 1,680,017
Operation and maintenance expense 560,766 541,868
Depreciation and amortization 293,096 274,796
Taxes, other than income   223,016     231,958  
Total operating expenses 1,076,878 1,048,622
Operating income 668,018 631,395
Miscellaneous expense (1,593 ) (4,389 )
Interest charges   115,948     116,241  
Income before income taxes 550,477 510,765
Income tax expense   200,373     195,690  
Net income $ 350,104   $ 315,075  
Basic and diluted earnings per share $ 3.38 $ 3.09
Cash dividends per share $ 1.68 $ 1.56
Basic and diluted weighted average shares outstanding 103,524 101,892
 
 

Year Ended
September 30

Summary Net Income by Segment (000s)

2016 2015
Regulated distribution $ 232,370 $ 204,813
Regulated pipeline 101,689 94,662
Nonregulated 15,276 17,064
Unrealized margins, net of tax   769     (1,464 )
Consolidated net income $ 350,104   $ 315,075  
       
 
Atmos Energy Corporation

Financial Highlights, continued (Unaudited)

 

Statements of Income

Three Months Ended
September 30
(000s except per share) 2016 2015
Gross Profit:
Regulated distribution segment $ 254,821 $ 240,511
Regulated pipeline segment 109,204 97,807
Nonregulated segment 12,119 16,136
Intersegment eliminations   (133 )   (133 )
Gross profit 376,011 354,321
Operation and maintenance expense 164,808 157,379
Depreciation and amortization 76,426 70,737
Taxes, other than income   50,144     50,352  
Total operating expenses 291,378 278,468
Operating income 84,633 75,853
Miscellaneous expense (532 ) (1,755 )
Interest charges   30,207     31,075  
Income before income taxes 53,894 43,023
Income tax expense   19,654     19,508  
Net income $ 34,240   $ 23,515  
Basic and diluted earnings per share $ 0.33 $ 0.23
Cash dividends per share $ 0.42 $ 0.39
Basic and diluted weighted average shares outstanding 104,687 102,234
 
 
Three Months Ended
September 30

Summary Net Income by Segment (000s)

2016 2015
Regulated distribution $ 14,947 $ 9,109
Regulated pipeline 17,788 16,377
Nonregulated 8,539 4,674
Unrealized margins, net of tax   (7,034 )   (6,645 )
Consolidated net income $ 34,240   $ 23,515  
       
 
Atmos Energy Corporation

Financial Highlights, continued (Unaudited)

 

Condensed Balance Sheets

September 30, September 30,
(000s) 2016 2015
Net property, plant and equipment $ 8,280,511 $ 7,430,580
Cash and cash equivalents 47,534 28,653
Accounts receivable, net 300,007 295,160
Gas stored underground 233,316 236,603
Other current assets   100,829   65,890
Total current assets 681,686 626,306
Goodwill 743,407 742,702
Deferred charges and other assets   305,285   275,484
$ 10,010,889 $ 9,075,072
 
Shareholders' equity $ 3,463,059 $ 3,194,797
Long-term debt   2,188,779   2,437,515
Total capitalization 5,651,838 5,632,312
Accounts payable and accrued liabilities 259,434 238,942
Other current liabilities 449,036 457,954
Short-term debt 829,811 457,927
Current maturities of long-term debt   250,000  
Total current liabilities 1,788,281 1,154,823
Deferred income taxes 1,603,056 1,411,315
Deferred credits and other liabilities   967,714   876,622
$ 10,010,889 $ 9,075,072
   
 
Atmos Energy Corporation

Financial Highlights, continued (Unaudited)

 

Condensed Statements of Cash Flows

Year Ended
September 30
(000s) 2016     2015
Cash flows from operating activities
Net income $ 350,104 $ 315,075
Depreciation and amortization 293,096 274,796
Deferred income taxes 193,556 192,886
Other 21,446 22,261
Changes in assets and liabilities   (63,212 )   6,896  
Net cash provided by operating activities 794,990 811,914
Cash flows from investing activities
Capital expenditures (1,086,950 ) (963,621 )
Available-for-sale securities activities, net 758 1,597
Other, net   6,460     5,422  
Net cash used in investing activities (1,079,732 ) (956,602 )
Cash flows from financing activities
Net increase in short-term debt 371,884 261,232
Proceeds from issuance of long-term debt, net of discount 499,060
Net proceeds from equity offering 98,574
Settlement of interest rate agreements 13,364
Interest rate agreements cash collateral (25,670 )
Repayment of long-term debt (500,000 )
Cash dividends paid (175,126 ) (160,018 )
Repurchase of equity awards (7,985 )
Issuance of common stock through stock purchase and employee retirement plans 34,278 30,952
Other   (317 )   (5,522 )
Net cash provided by financing activities   303,623     131,083  
Net increase (decrease) in cash and cash equivalents 18,881 (13,605 )
Cash and cash equivalents at beginning of period   28,653     42,258  
Cash and cash equivalents at end of period $ 47,534   $ 28,653  
       
 
Three Months Ended
September 30
Year Ended
September 30

Statistics

2016     2015   2016     2015
Consolidated distribution throughput (MMcf as metered) 57,031 56,614 375,967 429,322
Consolidated pipeline transportation volumes (MMcf) 132,188 146,240 505,188 528,068
Consolidated nonregulated delivered gas sales volumes (MMcf) 83,864 79,167 341,597 351,427
Regulated distribution meters in service 3,185,509 3,151,312 3,185,509 3,151,312
Regulated distribution average cost of gas $ 4.99 $ 4.64 $ 4.20 $ 5.20
Nonregulated net physical position (Bcf) 19.2 14.6 19.2 14.6

Atmos Energy Corporation
Susan Giles, 972-855-3729


Source: Business Wire (November 9, 2016 - 5:06 PM EST)

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