Northwest Natural Gas Beats 1Q Estimates

Gas commodity savings and other factors help boost the utility company's first quarter earnings.
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On May 1, 2009,

Northwest Natural Gas

(NWN) - Get Report

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.