NW Natural Reports 2011 & Q4 Results

Northwest Natural Gas Company, dba NW Natural (NYSE: NWN), posted earnings per share of $2.39 on net income of $63.9 million, compared to $2.73 per share on net income of $72.7 million in 2010, a 12 percent decrease year-over-year. Results for 2011 were negatively impacted by an after-tax charge of $4.4 million, equivalent to 17 cents per share, for the repeal of utility tax legislation (SB 408) which had been in effect since 2006. Conversely, results for 2010 were positively impacted by an after-tax gain of $4.6 million, or 17 cents per share, for an earnings benefit from SB 408, and an after-tax gain of $3.6 million, or 14 cents per share, for the refund of property taxes from an Oregon tax appeal ruling.

"Despite the regulatory and economic headwinds we faced, 2011 was a good year on many fronts for NW Natural," said Gregg Kantor, President and Chief Executive Officer. "In addition to passing along lower commodity prices to our customers and maintaining our high customer satisfaction ranking in the J.D. Power national survey, the company completed a landmark gas reserves investment that will benefit our customers and shareholders in the years ahead," Kantor noted.

Full-Year financial and operating highlights

Income and earnings per share

For the 12-months ended Dec. 31, 2011, NW Natural earnings were $2.39 per share on net income of $63.9 million. This compared to the company’s results in 2010 of $2.73 per share on net income of $72.7 million. The decrease in earnings was primarily due to the 2011 charge, and the 2010 gain, related to utility tax legislation and the property tax settlement in 2010.

In 2011, utility operations provided earnings of $2.26 per share on net income of $60.5 million. This compared to $2.49 per share on net income of $66.3 million in 2010. The major factor contributing to the change was an aggregate $14.9 million reduction in utility net operating revenues (utility margin), reflecting a $7.4 million write-off in 2011, plus a $7.7 million gain recognized in 2010, for the repealed Oregon legislative rule on utility taxes paid. This utility margin loss was partially offset by an $11.3 million margin gain from residential and commercial customers, including the effects of weather normalization and decoupling mechanisms.

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