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Why Is Atmos (ATO) Down 3% Since Last Earnings Report?

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A month has gone by since the last earnings report for Atmos Energy (ATO - Free Report) . Shares have lost about 3% in that time frame, underperforming the S&P 500.

Will the recent negative trend continue leading up to its next earnings release, or is Atmos due for a breakout? Before we dive into how investors and analysts have reacted as of late, let's take a quick look at the most recent earnings report in order to get a better handle on the important drivers.

Atmos Energy Q3 Earnings Beat Estimates, Revenues Miss

Atmos Energy Corporation posted third-quarter fiscal 2021 earnings of 78 cents per share, which surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 74 cents by 5.4%.

The reported earnings declined 18.8% from the prior-year figure. Despite a rate increase in both the segments, increased depreciation and property tax expenses, timing of system maintenance, refund of excess deferred income taxes to customers and higher bad debt expense in its distribution segment offset the positives.

Total Revenues

Total revenues of $605.5 million lagged the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $631 million by 4.1%. Nonetheless, the top line increased 22.8% from the year-ago reported figure due to strong contribution from its Distribution segment.

Segment Revenues

Distribution: Revenues from the segment increased 28.4% to $558.8 million from $435.3 million in the prior-year quarter. The improvement was driven by an increase in rates and customer growth.

Pipeline and Storage: Revenues from the segment increased 3.1% to $162.9 million from $158 million in the year-ago quarter.

Quarterly Highlights

Purchased gas cost for the quarter was $86.9 million, up 232.9% from the year-ago period. Operation and maintenance expenses for the quarter were $184.5 million, up 23.4% from the year-ago period.

Operating income for the reported quarter was down 4.1% year over year to $133.4 million.

The company incurred interest expenses of $20.9 million, up 6.6% from the year-ago period.

Financial Highlights

As of Jun 30, 2021, Atmos Energy had cash and cash equivalents of $524.6 million compared with $20.8 million on Sep 30, 2020.

Long-term debt was $7.12 billion as of Jun 30, 2021, up from $4.53 billion on Sep 30, 2020.

The company’s cash flow (used in)/from operating activities for the first nine months of fiscal 2021 was ($1,158.5) million against $895.5 million recorded in the comparable year-ago period.

It invested $1,357.9 million in the first nine months of fiscal 2021 to strengthen operations. Nearly 87% of the capital spending was associated with system safety and increased reliability of services.

Guidance

Atmos Energy reiterated its fiscal 2021 earnings guidance in the range of $4.90-$5.10 per share. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for fiscal 2021 earnings is $5.08 per share. It expects capital expenditure in the range of $2-$2.2 billion for fiscal 2021.

How Have Estimates Been Moving Since Then?

In the past month, investors have witnessed a downward trend in estimates review. The consensus estimate has shifted -5.98% due to these changes.

VGM Scores

At this time, Atmos has a poor Growth Score of F, however its Momentum Score is doing a lot better with a B. However, the stock was allocated a grade of D on the value side, putting it in the bottom 40% for this investment strategy.

Overall, the stock has an aggregate VGM Score of F. If you aren't focused on one strategy, this score is the one you should be interested in.

Outlook

Estimates have been broadly trending downward for the stock, and the magnitude of this revision indicates a downward shift. Notably, Atmos has a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). We expect an in-line return from the stock in the next few months.


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