Atmos Energy Corporation Reports Earnings for Fiscal 2017 First Quarter; Reaffirms Fiscal 2017 Guidance | Atmos Energy

Atmos Energy Corporation Reports Earnings for Fiscal 2017 First Quarter; Reaffirms Fiscal 2017 Guidance

Financial
February 7, 2017

DALLAS, Texas - (February 7, 2017) - Atmos Energy Corporation (NYSE: ATO) today reported consolidated results for its fiscal 2017 first quarter ended December 31, 2016.

  • Fiscal 2017 first quarter consolidated net income was $125.0 million, or $1.19 per diluted share, compared with consolidated net income of $102.9 million, or $1.00 per diluted share in the prior-year quarter.
  • Fiscal 2017 first quarter net income from continuing operations was $114.0 million, or $1.08 per diluted share, and income from discontinued operations was $11.0 million, or $0.11 per diluted share. In the prior-year quarter, net income from continuing operations was $101.5 million, or $0.99 per diluted share, and income from discontinued operations was $1.3 million, or $0.01 per diluted share.
  • The company's Board of Directors has declared a quarterly dividend of $0.45 per common share. The indicated annual dividend for fiscal 2017 is $1.80, which represents a 7.1 percent increase over fiscal 2016.


“Our first quarter results reflect the positive execution of our growth strategy,” said Kim Cocklin, Chief Executive Officer of Atmos Energy Corporation. “Ongoing capital investments made to our infrastructure have enhanced the safe and reliable delivery of natural gas to our customers and provided a steady return to shareholders.  In addition, we are pleased that Atmos Energy has become a fully regulated, pure-play natural gas utility after closing on the sale of our nonregulated natural gas marketing business in January. Fiscal 2017 earnings from continuing operations are still expected to range from between $3.45 and $3.65 per diluted share,” Cocklin concluded.

Results for the Three Months Ended December 31, 2016

Distribution gross profit increased $23.8 million to $359.3 million for the three months ended December 31, 2016, compared with $335.5 million in the prior-year period. Gross profit reflects a net $15.9 million increase in rates, primarily in the Mid-Tex, Louisiana and West Texas Divisions. In addition, transportation gross profit primarily in the Kentucky/Mid-States and West Texas Divisions increased $2.0 million.  Finally, customer growth primarily in the Mid-Tex Division contributed an incremental $1.7 million in gross profit.

Pipeline and storage gross profit increased $10.6 million to $109.6 million for the three months ended December 31, 2016, compared with $99.0 million in the prior-year period. This increase primarily is attributable to a $10.8 million increase in revenue from the Gas Reliability Infrastructure Program (GRIP) filings approved in fiscal 2016.

Continuing operation and maintenance expense for the three months ended December 31, 2016, was $124.9 million, compared with $119.8 million for the prior-year period. This increase was primarily driven by increased pipeline maintenance spending.

In January 2017, the company completed the sale of its natural gas marketing business.   Accordingly, the results of operations for the divested business have been presented as discontinued operations. Net income from discontinued operations increased $9.7 million to $11.0 million for the three months ended December 31, 2016, compared with $1.3 million in the prior-year period.  The increase largely reflects the recognition of a net $6.6 million noncash gain from unwinding hedge accounting for certain of the natural gas marketing business's financial positions as a result of the sale.

Capital expenditures increased to $298.0 million for the three months ended December 31, 2016, compared with $290.4 million in the prior-year quarter driven by a planned increase in spending for infrastructure replacements and enhancements.  

For the three months ended December 31, 2016, the company generated operating cash flow of $117.0 million, a $46.8 million increase compared with the three months ended December 31, 2015. The year-over-year increase primarily reflects favorable deferred gas cost recoveries attributable to higher sales volumes than in the prior-year quarter.

The debt capitalization ratio at December 31, 2016 was 48.7 percent, compared with 48.5 percent at September 30, 2016 and 49.5 percent at December 31, 2015. At December 31, 2016, there was $940.7 million of short-term debt outstanding, compared with $829.8 million at September 30, 2016 and $763.2 million at December 31, 2015.  Short-term debt balances fluctuate due to the seasonal nature of the natural gas business and the timing of spending year over year.

Outlook

The leadership of Atmos Energy remains focused on enhancing system safety and reliability through infrastructure investment while delivering shareholder value and consistent earnings growth. Atmos Energy continues to expect fiscal 2017 earnings from continuing operations to be in the range of $3.45 to $3.65 per diluted share. Net income from continuing operations is expected to be in the range of $365 million to $390 million.  Capital expenditures for fiscal 2017 are expected to range between $1.1 billion and $1.25 billion.

Conference Call to be Webcast February 8, 2017

Atmos Energy will host a conference call with financial analysts to discuss the fiscal 2017 first quarter financial results on Wednesday, February 8, 2017, at 8:00 a.m. Eastern Time. The domestic telephone number is 877-485-3107 and the international telephone number is 201-689-8427. Kim Cocklin, Chief Executive Officer, Mike Haefner, President and Chief Operating Officer and Chris Forsythe, Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer will participate in the conference call. The conference call will be webcast live on the Atmos Energy website at www.atmosenergy.com. A playback of the call will be available on the website later that day. 

Highlights and Recent Developments

Senior Management Changes
On January 19, 2017, Atmos Energy announced the departure of Bret J. Eckert, Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, effective February 1, 2017 and the appointment of  Christopher T. Forsythe, Vice President and Controller, to succeed him, also effective February 1, 2017.

On January 19, 2017, Atmos Energy also announced the retirement of Louis P. Gregory, Senior Vice President, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary, effective February 1, 2017. Gregory's successor will be named at a later date.

On November 30, 2016, Atmos Energy announced two promotions to its senior management team, effective January 1, 2017. Kevin Akers, President of the Kentucky/Mid-States Division was  promoted to Senior Vice President, Safety and Enterprise Services and Matt Robbins was promoted from Vice President, Human Resources to Senior Vice President, Human Resources.

This news release should be read in conjunction with the attached unaudited financial information.

To view Atmos Energy's Financial Highlights, click here. 

 Forward-Looking Statements

The matters discussed in this news release may contain “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. All statements other than statements of historical fact included in this news release are forward-looking statements made in good faith by the company and are intended to qualify for the safe harbor from liability established by the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. When used in this news release or in any of the company's other documents or oral presentations, the words “anticipate,” “believe,” “estimate,” “expect,” “forecast,” “goal,” “intend,” “objective,” “plan,” “projection,” “seek,” “strategy” or similar words are intended to identify forward-looking statements. Such forward-looking statements are subject to risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those discussed in this news release, including the risks and uncertainties relating to regulatory trends and decisions, the company's ability to continue to access the capital markets and the other factors discussed in the company's reports filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. These factors include the risks and uncertainties discussed in the company's Annual Report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2016. Although the company believes these forward-looking statements to be reasonable, there can be no assurance that they will approximate actual experience or that the expectations derived from them will be realized. The company undertakes no obligation to update or revise forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.

About Atmos Energy

Atmos Energy Corporation, headquartered in Dallas, is the country's largest natural-gas-only distributor, serving over three million natural gas distribution customers in over 1,400   communities in eight states from the Blue Ridge Mountains in the East to the Rocky Mountains in the West. Atmos Energy also manages company-owned natural gas pipeline and storage assets, including one of the largest intrastate natural gas pipeline systems in Texas. For more information, visit www.atmosenergy.com.

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