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Northwest Natural Gas Beats 1Q Estimates

Gas commodity savings and other factors help boost the utility company's first quarter earnings.

Once these most recent quarterly results are finalized, they will be run through Ratings' model and our ratings will be adjusted accordingly. To keep up to date on all of our ratings, visit Ratings Screener.

On May 1, 2009,

Northwest Natural Gas

(NWN) - Get Northwest Natural Holding Co. Report

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reported that its Q1 FY09 earnings grew 9.7%, boosted by gas commodity savings, gains from a regulatory adjustment for taxes paid, and customer growth. Net income stood at $47.36 million or $1.78 per share compared to $43.17 million or $1.63 per share in the prior year's quarter. The most recent quarterly earnings beat the consensus estimate of $1.69 per share.

Gross operating revenue climbed 12.8% to $437.36 million from $387.69 million a year ago. Total Gas revenue increased 13.1% to $432.80 million from $382.64 million, due to higher revenue from residential and commercial customers. Total Gas deliveries declined 8.5% to 411.31 million therms from 449.28 million therms in the year-ago quarter, resulting from a slowing economy in the Pacific Northwest. Gas deliveries to residential and commercial customers dropped 2.7% to 281.51 million therms from 289.32 million therms, and gas deliveries to Industrial firms decreased 17.2% to 12.04 million therms from 14.54 million therms in Q1 FY08.

At the end of Q1 FY09, Northwest's customer base stood at 665,387, up 1.2% from 657,415 in the comparable quarter of the last year.

During the quarter under review, the company received approval from the Public Utility Commission of Oregon (OPUC) that created a new, consolidated natural gas pipeline System Integrity Program (SIP), to provide enhanced pipeline safety and recovery of certain costs. Moreover, NWN requested approval from the OPUC for a refund of cost savings from lower natural gas prices for Oregon customers totaling $32.00 million.

Recently, NWN declared a quarterly dividend of $0.395 per share on its common stock to be paid on May 15, 2009.

Looking forward to FY09, the company raised its earnings by $0.15 per share to be in the range of $2.70 per share to $2.85 per share.