NiSource Inc. (NI) posted fourth-quarter 2013 net operating earnings from continuing operations of 47 cents per share, surpassing the Zacks Consensus Estimate by a penny. Quarterly earnings jumped 6.8% year over year, primarily due to improvement in top-line performance.
The company recorded quarterly GAAP earnings of 49 cents per share compared with 42 cents per share in the prior year.
For 2013, NiSource’s net operating earnings from continuing operations were $1.58 per share, beating the Zacks Consensus Estimate by 1.9%. Annual earnings were 8.2% higher than the year-ago figure.
On a GAAP basis, the company reported earnings of $1.57 per share compared with the prior-year figure of $1.40 per share.
NiSource’s gross revenues during the quarter increased 13.8% year over year to $1.6 billion. The top-line rise came on the back of higher contributions across the company’s segments, comprising Gas Distribution, Gas Transportation and Storage, Electric Operations and Other segments.
The company’s annual gross revenues were $5.7 billion, surpassing the Zacks Consensus Estimate by 2.1%. Reported revenues increased 11.7% from the prior-year top line figure.
Highlights of the Release
In the quarter under review, NiSource’s total operating expenses increased 7.1% to $715.8 million from $668.3 million a year ago. The surge in expense was primarily due to a 6.2% spike in operating and maintenance expenses and a 3.6% increase in depreciation and amortization expenses.
However, the company’s operating income climbed 8.8% year over year to $340 million.
Interest expenses increased 6.4% year over year to $110.5 million, primarily owing to an increase in debt level.
As of Dec 31, 2013, NiSource had cash and cash equivalents of $26.8 million, down from $36.3 million as of Dec 31, 2012.
Long-term debt (excluding amounts due within one year) as of Dec 31, 2013 was $7,593.2 million versus $6,819.1 million as of Dec 31, 2012.
For 2013, net cash flows provided by operating activities were $1,436.8 million versus $1,275.5 million in the year-ago comparable period.
NiSource’s capital expenditure was $1,879.9 million in 2013 compared with $1,498.8 million a year ago.
NiSource provided its 2014 net operating earnings expectation of $1.61 - $1.71 per share. The company remains focused on earnings-accretive infrastructure replacement and modernization programs with long-term earnings growth expectation in range of 5% - 7%.
At the Peer
Northeast Utilities (NU) announced fourth-quarter 2013 adjusted earnings of 57 cents per share, missing the Zacks Consensus Estimate by a penny.
NiSource currently has a Zacks Rank #4 (Sell). However, some better-ranked stocks in the same sector include Exelon Corp. (EXC) and Wisconsin Energy Corp. (WEC), each with a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).