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Atmos Energy Corp. Reports Operating Results (10-K)
Posted by: gurufocus (IP Logged)
Date: November 13, 2012 01:06PM
Atmos Energy Corp. (ATO) filed Annual Report for the period ended 2012-09-30.
Highlight of Business Operations:Regulation Our natural gas distribution and regulated transmission and storage operations are subject to regulation with respect to rates, service, maintenance of accounting records and various other matters by the respective regulatory authorities in the states in which we operate. We meet the criteria established within accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of a cost-based, rate-regulated entity, which requires us to reflect the financial effects of the ratemaking and accounting practices and policies of the various regulatory commissions in our financial statements in accordance with applicable authoritative accounting standards. We apply the provisions of this standard to our regulated operations and record regulatory assets for costs that have been deferred for which future recovery through customer rates is considered probable and regulatory liabilities when it is probable that revenues will be reduced for amounts that will be credited to customers through the ratemaking process. As a result, certain costs that would normally be expensed under accounting principles generally accepted in the United States are permitted to be capitalized or deferred on the balance sheet because it is probable they can be recovered through rates. Discontinuing the application of this method of accounting for regulatory assets and liabilities could significantly increase our operating expenses as fewer costs would likely be capitalized or deferred on the balance sheet, which could reduce our net income. Further, regulation may impact the period in which revenues or expenses are recognized. The amounts to be recovered or recognized are based upon historical experience and our understanding of the regulations. The impact of regulation on our regulated operations may be affected by decisions of the regulatory authorities or the issuance of new regulations.
Unbilled Revenue Sales of natural gas to our natural gas distribution customers are billed on a monthly basis; however, the billing cycle periods for certain classes of customers do not necessarily coincide with accounting periods used for financial reporting purposes. We follow the revenue accrual method of accounting for natural gas distribution segment revenues whereby revenues applicable to gas delivered to customers, but not yet billed under the cycle billing method, are estimated and accrued and the related costs are charged to expense.
The $28.0 million increase in regulated transmission and storage gross profit compared to the prior year was primarily a result of the rate case that was finalized and became effective in May 2011 as well as the GRIP filings approved by the Railroad Commission of Texas (RRC) during fiscal 2011 and 2012. In May 2011, the RRC issued an order in the rate case of Atmos Pipeline Texas that approved an annual operating income increase of $20.4 million. During fiscal 2011, the RRC approved the Atmos Pipeline Texas GRIP filing with an annual operating income increase of $12.6 million that went into effect in the fiscal fourth quarter. On April 10, 2012, the RRC approved the Atmos Pipeline Texas GRIP filing with an annual operating income increase of $14.7 million that went into effect with bills rendered on an after April 10, 2012.