Back to top

Analyst Blog

Unitil Corporation (UTL - Snapshot Report) reported third-quarter 2013 earnings of 4 cents per share, surpassing the Zacks Consensus Estimate of a loss of a penny. Quarterly earnings jumped 33.3% year over year, on the heels of an improvement in both natural gas and electricity sales margins. The positives were partially offset by increased utility operating costs.

Operational Highlights

In the quarter under review, Unitil Corporation posted total operating revenues of $72.5 million, missing the Zacks Consensus Estimate by $0.5 million. Quarterly revenues climbed 1.7% year over year due to a 5.3% rise in the company’s Electric segment sales. This was partially offset by a 6.9% year-over-year drop in the company’s Gas segment revenues. Unitil Corporation’s Other segment reported flat revenues year over year.

Total operating expenses edged up 1.1% to $67 million from the year-ago figure of $66.3 million. A rise in expenses was primarily due to an increase in depreciation expenses, costs of purchased electricity and operation and maintenance expenses.

Despite the marginal rise in expenses, the company’s operating margin rose to 7.6% from 7% in the year-ago quarter on the back of higher revenues.

Total electricity sales volume edged down 0.7% year over year to 465.8 million kilowatt-hours due to a decline in residential consumption.

Total gas sales volume increased 2.5% to 24.4 million therm from 23.8 million therm a year ago. The improvement in sales was primarily driven by a rise in commercial/industrial gas sales and a rise in the customer count.

Financial Update

Unitil Corporation’s cash and cash equivalents as of Sep 30, 2013 were $12.3 million versus $9.5 million as of Sep 30, 2012.

Long-term debt (less current portion) as of Sep 30, 2013 was $286.9 million compared with $287.5 million as of Sep 30, 2012.

During the first nine months of 2013, cash provided by operating activities was $84.1 million versus $61.9 million in the year-ago comparable period.

The company invested $64.6 million, during the first nine months of 2013, under its capital spending program.

Dividend Update

During the earnings call, the board of directors of Unitil Corporation announced that the company will pay a regular quarterly dividend of 34.5 cents per share on the company’s common stock. On an annualized basis, the rate of dividend stands at $1.38 per share.

Peer Comparison

American Electric Power Company Inc. (AEP - Analyst Report) reported third-quarter operating earnings of $1.10 per share, beating the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $1.08 by 1.9%.

Zacks Rank

Unitil Corporation currently has a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). However, other stocks from the industry that are presently performing well include NRG Yield, Inc. (NYLD - Snapshot Report) and UNS Energy Corp. (UNS - Snapshot Report), each with a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

Please login to Zacks.com or register to post a comment.

New to Zacks?

Start Here

Zacks Investment Research

Close

Are you a new Zacks Member or a visitor to Zacks.com?

Top Zacks Features

My Portfolio Tracker

Is it Time to Sell?

One of the most important steps you can take today is to set up your portfolio tracker on Zacks.com. Once you do, you'll be notified of major events affecting your stocks and/or funds with daily email alerts.

More Zacks Resources

Zacks Rank Home - Evaluate your stocks and use the Zacks Rank to eliminate the losers and keep the winners.

Mutual Fund Rank Home - Evaluate your funds with the Mutual Fund Rank for both your personal and retirement funds.

Stock/Mutual Fund Screening - Find better stocks and mutual funds. The ones most likely to beat the market and provide a positive return.

My Portfolio - Track your Portfolio and find out where your stocks/mutual funds stack up with the Zacks Rank.

Zacks #1 Rank Top Movers for Zacks #1 Rank Top Movers

Company Symbol Price %Chg
RPC INC RES 24.91 +8.35%
LITHIA MOTO… LAD 94.59 +4.60%
DELTA AIR L… DAL 39.15 +3.90%
FLAMEL TECH… FLML 14.51 +3.50%
SOUTHWEST A… LUV 28.87 +2.92%