The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

April 29, 2013

Cold winter boosts Empire’s income, earnings per share

From staff reports

JOPLIN, Mo. — The Empire District Electric Co. recently reported first-quarter net income of $12.6 million, or 30 cents per share, on total gas, electric and other revenue of $151.1 million. Revenue after subtracting the cost of electric fuel, purchased power and natural gas then came to $93.9 million for the quarter.

That compares to net income of $9.8 million, or 23 cents per share, on combined electric, gas and other revenue that totaled $137.1 million for the first quarter of 2012. Revenue after subtracting for fuel expenses came to $83.3 million during that quarter.

The quarter ended March 31.

For the 12-month period March 31, the Joplin-based utility reported net income of $58.5 million, or $1.38 per share, on total revenue of $519.7 million, before expenses. That compares to net income of $52.9 million, or $1.26 per share, on revenue of $515.6 million for the previous 12 months.

 Last week, Empire’s board of directors also declared a quarterly dividend of 25 cents per share on common stock payable June 17 to holders of record as of June 3.

In a statement issued with the results, the utility cited weather as “the primary driver of increased revenue and margin in the electric and gas segments during the first quarter of 2013.”

That was because of a return to near-normal winter weather compared to the warm weather in the first quarter of 2012, which resulted in a 10 percent increase in kilowatt hour demand, according to Empire.

“The additional sales from the colder weather added an estimated $9.3 million to electric margin for the quarter,” Empire said in a statement.

The gains were offset by a pre-tax write off of $2.4 million stemming from a regulatory disallowance of a construction charge at the Iatan 2 power plant near Kansas City, as well as other charges.

The first quarter and 12-month earnings do not include the results of Empire’s latest rate case in Missouri. The Missouri Public Service Commission in March approved an agreement allowing for an electric rate increase of about $27.5 million. A residential customer using 1,000 kilowatt-hours per month will see an increase of about $7.74. When a fuel adjustment clause is netted out, the actual increase will be about $5.60 per month, according to Empire officials.

That rate increase took affect on April 1.

Full-year guidance

The Empire District Electric Co. last week said it is forecast earnings of $1.26 to $1.43 per share for the full year.