PORTLAND, OR -- (Marketwire) -- 03/01/13 -- Northwest Natural Gas Company, dba NW Natural (NYSE: NWN)
•Consolidated earnings for fiscal year 2012 were $2.22 per share on net income of $59.9 million, compared to $2.39 per share on net income of $63.9 million in 2011.•Oregon general rate case decision in 2012 approved several key long-term recovery mechanisms, but also delayed some policy decisions to 2013. •Utility customer growth rate was 0.9% for the year 2012, compared to 0.8% for 2011. •Cost of gas rates to NW Natural's Oregon and Washington customers decreased for the fourth year in a row, resulting in aggregate customer rate decreases of around 30% and total savings of approximately $400 million. •Customer refunds in 2012 totaled approximately $39 million due to lower wholesale natural gas prices. •Customer satisfaction scores remain high, with NW Natural ranking second in the J.D. Power and Associates Study of natural gas utilities in the U.S. Western region. •Shareholder dividends increased 2.2% to 45.5 cents per share in the fourth quarter of 2012, marking the 57th consecutive year dividend payments have increased. •Earnings guidance for 2013 is estimated to be in the range of $2.15 to $2.35 per share.
Northwest Natural Gas Company, dba NW Natural (NYSE: NWN), posted earnings per share of $2.22 on net income of $59.9 million, compared to $2.39 per share on net income of $63.9 million in 2011. Results for 2012 were negatively affected by a previously disclosed, one-time after-tax charge of $2.7 million ($0.10 per share) related to a regulatory disallowance of certain income tax expense recovery and a decrease in operating revenues of $3.9 million resulting from timing differences caused by changes in the billing rate structure for Oregon customers. Both items were a result of the recently completed Oregon general rate case.
"Despite the challenging regulatory and economic environment, we were able to successfully move forward on many key initiatives in 2012," said Gregg Kantor, President and Chief Executive Officer. "We completed the first Oregon general rate case since 2002, strengthened our continuing focus on safety, and refunded $39 million of natural gas commodity savings to customers."
Full-year and fourth quarter financial and operating results
Consolidated income and earnings per share
For the year ended Dec. 31, 2012, NW Natural earnings were $2.22 per share on net income of $59.9 million. This compared to the Company's results in 2011 of $2.39 per share on net income of $63.9 million. Utility operations in 2012 produced a $1.6 million increase in utility margin (operating revenues less cost of gas), but that increase was offset by higher operating expenses, excluding cost of gas, and the $2.7 million one-time after-tax charge related to a regulatory disallowance of income tax expense recovery. Our gas storage and other business segments contributed an additional $1.3 million of net income in 2012 compared to 2011.
For the quarter ended Dec. 31, 2012, net income decreased to $1.05 per share on net income of $28.4 million, compared to $1.09 per share on net income of $29.2 million last year. The decrease in net income for the quarter was primarily due to the $3.9 million shift in utility operating revenues from the fourth quarter of this year to the first three quarters of 2013. These timing differences were caused by changes in our billing rate structure for Oregon customers resulting from the Oregon rate case. Partially offsetting these decreases were lower operations and maintenance expenses and higher gas cost savings.
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