Aqua America Inc. reported fourth-quarter 2018 earnings per share of 31 cents, lagging the Zacks Consensus Estimate by a penny.
Nonetheless, the bottom line improved year over year, which can be attributed to higher earnings from rate cases, regulated growth and lower expenses.
Quarterly revenues amounted to $205.7 million, which missed the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $213 million by 3.4%. However, the reported revenues were up 1.3% year over year. The upside can be attributed to rate activity, regulated growth, among others, marginally offset by lower consumption.
Aqua America, Inc. Price, Consensus and EPS Surprise
Highlights of the Release
The company continues to expand its operation through acquisitions. Aqua America added more than 13,700 customers during 2018 through completion of six municipal water and wastewater systems acquisitions. The company currently has eight pending water and wastewater acquisitions under agreement, expected to close in 2019, totaling nearly 20,000 new customer connections.
Fourth-quarter operation and maintenance expenses increased 18.4% year over year to $92.4 million.
Interest expenses also increased 13.8% to $26.4 million from $23.2 million in the year-ago quarter.
Current assets were $147.1 million as of Dec 31, 2018, up from $131.2 million in the corresponding period of 2017.
Long-term debt was $2,398.5 million as of Dec 31, 2018, higher than $2,007.7 million on Dec 31, 2017.
Aqua America expects adjusted net earnings in 2019 within $1.45-$1.50 per share.
It expects customer base to expand 2-3% in 2019. The company plans to invest $550 million in 2019. This is part of the investment plan of nearly $1.4 billion through 2021.
Upcoming Utility Releases
The Southern Company (SO - Free Report) is expected to release fourth-quarter 2018 numbers on Feb 20, before the opening bell. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for the quarter is pegged at 24 cents.
Consolidated Edison Inc. (ED - Free Report) is expected to release fourth-quarter 2018 numbers on Feb 21, after market close. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for the quarter to be reported is pegged at 76 cents.
American States Water Co. (AWR - Free Report) is expected to release fourth-quarter 2018 earnings on Feb 25, 2019. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for the quarter is pegged at 37 cents.
Currently, Aqua America carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.
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