Atmos Energy Corporation Reports Earnings for Fiscal 2017 Second Quarter and Six Months; Reaffirms Fiscal 2017 Guidance | Atmos Energy

Atmos Energy Corporation Reports Earnings for Fiscal 2017 Second Quarter and Six Months; Reaffirms Fiscal 2017 Guidance

Financial
May 3, 2017

DALLAS, Texas - (May 3, 2017) - Atmos Energy Corporation (NYSE: ATO) today reported consolidated results for its fiscal 2017 second quarter and six months ended March 31, 2017.

  • Fiscal 2017 second quarter consolidated net income was $164.7 million, or $1.55 per diluted share, compared with consolidated net income of $141.8 million, or $1.38 per diluted share in the prior-year quarter.
  • Fiscal 2017 second quarter net income from continuing operations was $162.0 million, or $1.52 per diluted share. In the prior-year quarter, net income from continuing operations was $143.0 million, or $1.39 per diluted share, and the net loss from discontinued operations was $1.2 million, or $0.01 per diluted share.
  • The company recognized a net gain on the sale of discontinued operations of $2.7 million, or $0.03 per diluted share in the current-year quarter, upon completion of the sale of Atmos Energy Marketing, LLC in January 2017.
  • 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.

For the six months ended March 31, 2017, net income from continuing operations was $276.1 million or $2.61 per diluted share, compared with net income from continuing operations of $244.5 million, or $2.38 per diluted share for the same period last year. Net income from discontinued operations for the six months ended March 31, 2017, was $13.7 million, or $0.13 per diluted share, including the gain on sale, compared with net income from discontinued operations of $0.1 million in the prior-year period.

“Our solid financial performance in the second quarter reflects the continued execution of our growth strategy, coupled with weather mechanisms which effectively insulated us during a period of warmer than normal weather,” said Kim Cocklin, chief executive officer of Atmos Energy Corporation. “Our results reflect the significant capital investments we have made in our infrastructure to safely and reliably deliver natural gas to our 3.2 million customers. For fiscal 2017, we remain on track to meet earnings from continuing operations of between $3.45 and $3.65 per diluted share,” Cocklin concluded.

Results for the Three Months Ended March 31, 2017

Distribution gross profit, which is defined as operating revenues less purchased gas cost,  increased $37.9 million to $449.4 million for the three months ended March 31, 2017, compared with $411.5 million in the prior-year quarter. Gross profit reflects a net $29.5 million increase in rates, primarily in the Mid-Tex, Mississippi and Louisiana Divisions. In addition, customer growth primarily in the Mid-Tex and Tennessee service areas contributed an incremental $2.5 million in gross profit. These increases were partially offset by a net $0.6 million decline in consumption primarily due to weather that was 23 percent warmer than the prior-year quarter, before adjusting for weather normalization mechanisms.

Pipeline and storage gross profit, which is defined as operating revenues less purchased gas cost, increased $10.0 million to $111.2 million for the three months ended March 31, 2017, compared with $101.2 million in the prior-year quarter. This increase is primarily the result of a $10.8 million increase in revenues from the Gas Reliability Infrastructure Program (GRIP) filing approved in 2016.

Continuing operation and maintenance expense for the three months ended March 31, 2017, was $132.2 million, compared with $127.9 million for the prior-year quarter. The $4.3 million quarter-over-quarter increase was primarily driven by higher employee-related costs. 

Results for the Six Months Ended March 31, 2017

Distribution gross profit increased $61.9 million to $808.8 million for the six months ended March 31, 2017, compared with $746.9 million in the prior-year period. Gross profit reflects a net $46.6 million increase in rates, primarily in the Mid-Tex, Louisiana and Mississippi Divisions. Customer growth primarily in the Mid-Tex Division contributed an incremental $4.2 million in gross profit.  Revenue-related taxes primarily in the Mid-Tex and West Texas Divisions increased gross profit by $3.8 million. Transportation gross profit primarily in the Kentucky/Mid-States and West Texas Divisions increased $2.7 million, period over period. These increases were partially offset by a net $1.0 million decline in consumption primarily due to weather that was 12 percent warmer than the prior-year period, before adjusting for weather normalization mechanisms.  

Pipeline and storage gross profit increased $20.6 million to $220.8 million for the six months ended March 31, 2017, compared with $200.2 million in the prior-year period. This increase primarily is attributable to a $21.5 million increase in revenue from the GRIP filings approved in fiscal 2016.

Continuing operation and maintenance expense for the six months ended March 31, 2017, was $257.2 million, compared with $247.7 million for the prior-year period. This $9.5 million increase was primarily driven by higher employee-related costs and increased pipeline maintenance spending.

In January 2017, the company completed the sale of its natural gas marketing business. Net income from discontinued operations was $13.7 million for the six months ended March 31, 2017, compared with $0.1 million in the prior–year period.  The increase largely reflects the recognition of a net $6.6 million noncash gain in the first quarter of fiscal 2017 from unwinding hedge accounting for certain of the natural gas marketing business's financial positions as a result of the sale and the $2.7 million gain recognized on the sale.

Capital expenditures increased $23.4 million to $559.4 million for the six months ended March 31, 2017, compared with $536.0 million in the prior-year period, driven by a planned increase in spending for infrastructure replacements and enhancements.  

For the six months ended March 31, 2017, the company generated operating cash flow of $552.0 million, a $99.0 million increase compared with the six months ended March 31, 2016. The year-over-year increase primarily reflects the positive cash effect of successful rate case outcomes achieved in fiscal 2016 and changes in working capital.

The debt capitalization ratio at March 31, 2017 was 45.8 percent, compared with 48.5 percent at September 30, 2016 and 47.8 percent at March 31, 2016. At March 31, 2017, there was $670.6 million of short-term debt outstanding, compared with $829.8 million at September 30, 2016 and $626.9 million at March 31, 2016.  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 still expected to be in the range of $365 million to $390 million.  Capital expenditures for fiscal 2017 are still expected to range between $1.1 billion and $1.25 billion.

Conference Call to be Webcast May 4, 2017

Atmos Energy will host a conference call with financial analysts to discuss the fiscal 2017 second quarter financial results on Thursday, May 4, 2017, at 10:00 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
Board Retirement

On February 9, 2017, Atmos Energy announced the retirement of Dr. Thomas C. Meredith from the company's Board of Directors, effective February 8, 2017.

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, and in the company's Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q for the three months ended December 31, 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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