By a News Reporter-Staff News Editor at Energy Weekly News -- Chesapeake Utilities Corporation (NYSE: CPK) reported first quarter financial results. The Company's net income for the three months ended March 31, 2014 was $17.7 million, or $1.82 per share. This represents an increase of $2.8 million, or $0.28 per share, over the same quarter in 2013.
"We begin 2014 with another great quarter of financial results and growth. Our first quarter results reflect positive contributions from natural gas service expansions and acquisitions completed in 2013, as well as additional gross margin generated from colder temperatures," stated Michael P. McMasters, President and Chief Executive Officer of Chesapeake Utilities Corporation. "I am particularly proud of our employees' unwavering determination and drive during a significantly challenging winter. Operationally, we faced several periods of extreme weather, and our natural gas and propane employees responded to the challenges created by the sharply increased customer demands and the weather's impact on the infrastructures of the Company and our suppliers," Mr. McMasters added.
"We are continuing to identify and evaluate potential opportunities to further expand our regulated and unregulated service offerings within and beyond our current markets, and we are making the investments needed to support both our recent and future growth," Mr. McMasters added.
A more detailed discussion and analysis of the Company's results for each segment are provided in the following pages.
Operating Results for the Three Months Ended March 31, 2014 and 2013
The Company's operating income for the three months ended March 31, 2014 was $31.6 million, an increase of $5.1 million over the same quarter in 2013. Gross margin increased by $11.7 million, which was partially offset by an increase of $6.6 million in other operating expenses. Acquisitions completed in 2013 resulted in $4.8 million of additional gross margin and $2.1 million of other operating expenses during the first quarter of 2014. The remaining increase in gross margin was due primarily to: (a) $2.7 million from increased usage due to colder temperatures on the Delmarva Peninsula and in Florida; (b) $1.4 million in new margin generated as a result of natural gas service expansions; © $1.0 million in increased wholesale propane sales; (d) $889,000 in higher profit from increased propane wholesale marketing activity; and (e) $724,000 in additional revenue related to continued implementation of the Florida Gas Replacement Infrastructure Program ("GRIP"). These increases in gross margin were partially offset by $516,000 in lower retail propane margins as a result of retail margins on the Delmarva Peninsula beginning to revert to more normal levels. Other operating expenses increases included primarily: (a) $1.2 million in increased payroll to support recent growth and expand the Company's capabilities for future growth; (b) $980,000 in increased accruals for incentive bonuses as a result of the Company's financial performance to date; © $726,000 in increased depreciation and property tax costs associated with new capital investments; and (d) $674,000 in higher benefits costs as a result of healthcare costs and other employee-related expenses.
Keywords for this news article include: Energy, Oil & Gas, Natural Gas, Chesapeake Utilities Corporation.
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