CHARLOTTE, N.C., Dec. 21, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Piedmont Natural Gas (NYSE: PNY) today announced results for its fiscal year ended October 31, 2012. For the year, the Company reported net income of $119.8 million and diluted earnings per share of $1.66 compared with net income of $113.6 million and diluted earnings per share of $1.57 for 2011.
Commenting on the Company's fiscal year 2012 results, Piedmont Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer, Thomas E. Skains said, "It was an excellent year for our Company – a year of significant strategic, operational and financial success. After a winter that was the warmest in more than 35 years, our employees rallied to focus on operational and financing efficiencies, expense discipline and margin growth. We generated a notable improvement in the growth of our core gas utility business with the addition of over 13,000 new customers to our distribution systems, up 26 percent from our customer additions in 2011. We also successfully executed the largest capital expansion program in the Company's history, investing over $550 million for core customer growth, expansion to serve new power generation facilities and system infrastructure and pipeline integrity management programs. With a strong finish in 2012, we look forward to the opportunities ahead in the new year."
System throughput in 2012 totaled 324 million dekatherms, compared with 280 million dekatherms for the previous year. The increase was largely due to an 82 percent increase in volumes delivered to power generation customers, partially offset by a decrease in volumes delivered to residential, commercial, and industrial customers due to weather in 2012 that was 19 percent warmer than normal and 27 percent warmer than 2011.
Utility margin was up $1.8 million from the previous year primarily due to customer growth in the Company's residential and commercial markets, increased base rates in Tennessee and increased services in its power generation markets, partially offset by the impact of warmer weather in the Company's residential, commercial, industrial and secondary markets. Operations and maintenance expenses for the year increased $17.2 million from the previous year primarily due to higher employee benefit expenses in pension and medical plans, higher payroll expenses and increased contract labor expenses incurred in process improvement and pipeline integrity programs.
Utility interest charges were $21.1 million in 2012 compared to $44.0 million in 2011. The reduction in interest charges was due to higher capitalization of borrowing costs to AFUDC (allowance for funds used during construction) as the result of increased project construction expenditures, and the Company's financing activities to minimize the cost of debt.
Pre-tax income from equity method investments was $23.9 million in 2012 compared with $24.0 million in 2011. Warmer weather in the markets served by SouthStar Energy impacted results, but were mostly offset by improved performance from Cardinal Pipeline due to a major expansion project for its customers.
SOURCE Piedmont Natural Gas
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