Unitil Corp. (UTL - Snapshot Report) reported first-quarter 2014 earnings of 91 cents per share, surpassing the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 80 cents by 13.8%. Quarterly earnings increased 15.2% year over year on the back of higher natural gas and electricity sales and margins.
In the first quarter 2014, Unitil Corporation posted total operating revenues of $156.1 million, beating the Zacks Consensus Estimate by 19.9%. Quarterly revenues also increased 32.1% year over year due to a severe winter and steady customer growth.
Gas: Segment revenue increased 30.8% to $92.6 million from $70.8 million in the first quarter of 2013, driven by higher therm unit sales, growing customer demand and lately approved distribution rates.
Electric: Segment revenue increased 34.9% to $61.9 million from $45.9 million in the first quarter of 2013 due to higher electric kilowatt-hour (kWh) sales and recently approved electric distribution rates.
Other: Revenue from Unitil’s non-regulated energy brokering business segment lifted 6.7% to $1.6 million.
Highlights of the Release
Total operating expenses in the reported quarter were $130.7 million, increasing 35.7% from the prior-year period mainly due to a respective 55.3% and 39.2% increase in the cost of Gas and Electric sales.
Total electricity sales volume was up 5.0% year over year to 447.0 million kWh. Total gas sales volume increased 14.9% to 93.4 million therm from 81.3 million therm a year ago. Sales improvement was seen across all customer groups including commercial/industrial and residential.
The company’s net interest expense increased 13.0% to $5.2 million from $4.6 million a year ago due to lower interest income on regulatory assets.
Unitil Corp’s cash and cash equivalents as of Mar 31, 2014, were $14.3 million versus $7.5 million as of Mar 31, 2013.
Long-term debt (less current portion) as of Mar 31, 2014, was $284.7 million compared with $287.2 million as of Mar 31, 2013.
During the first quarter of 2014, cash provided by operating activities was $28.7 million versus $40.8 million in the year-ago quarter.
Recently, Unitil Corp announced that its board of directors approved a regular quarterly dividend of 34.5 cents per share on the company’s common stock. On an annualized basis, the dividend rate stands at $1.38 per share. The dividend yield of the company is 4.27%, much higher than the industry average of 2.10%.
NRG Energy, Inc. (NRG - Analyst Report) is scheduled to release its first quarter earnings on May 6. The Zacks Consensus Estimate is currently at a loss of 12 cents.
Ameren Corp. (AEE - Analyst Report) is scheduled to release its first quarter earnings on May 8. The Zacks Consensus Estimate is currently at 32 cents.
Calpine Corp. (CPN - Snapshot Report) is scheduled to release its first quarter earnings on May 1. The Zacks Consensus Estimate is currently at a loss of 6 cents.
Unitil Corporation currently has a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).
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