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UNITIL Corp Reports Operating Results (10-K)

February 01, 2012 | About:
10qk

10qk

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UNITIL Corp (UTL) filed Annual Report for the period ended 2011-12-31.

Unitil Corp. has a market cap of $302.4 million; its shares were traded at around $27.63 with a P/E ratio of 26.1 and P/S ratio of 0.8. The dividend yield of Unitil Corp. stocks is 5%.

Highlight of Business Operations:

In 2011, the Company completed base rate cases for: Unitil Energy; the electric and gas divisions of Fitchburg; the Maine division of Northern Utilities; and Granite State. The completion of these rate cases resulted in increases in annual distribution revenues of: $10.2 million for Unitil Energy; $3.3 million and $3.7 million for the electric and gas divisions of Fitchburg, respectively; $7.8 million for the Maine Division of Northern Utilities. Granite State received approval for an increase of $2.2 million in annual revenue. The New Hampshire division of Northern Utilities requested an increase of $5.2 million in annual distribution revenues in its base rate case filing. The Company is currently in settlement discussions with the NHPUC regarding its base rate case filing for Northern Utilities New Hampshire division and a final rate order is expected in the first quarter 2012. See Rate Case Activity in Part I, Item 1 for additional information on these rate cases.

2011 Compared to 2010The Companys Earnings Applicable to Common Shareholders (Earnings) were $16.3 million, or $1.50 per share, for the full year of 2011, an increase of $6.8 million, or $0.62 per share, over 2010, reflecting higher natural gas and electric sales margins partially offset by higher utility operating and interest costs. The Companys Earnings were $10.0 million, or $0.92 per share, for the fourth quarter of 2011, compared to Earnings of $5.2 million, or $0.48 per share, in the fourth quarter of 2010. The results include a non-recurring pre-tax credit of $4.7 million recorded in the fourth quarter of 2011 in connection with the Companys court appeal and the resulting favorable ruling vacating a 2009 regulatory order that had resulted in the previous charge off of Purchased Gas costs. Also included in the 2011 full year results is a non-recurring pre-tax charge of $2.0 million recorded in the third quarter, related to the resolution of the 2008 ice storm cost recovery in the Companys Massachusetts base rate case.

Total Operation & Maintenance (O&M) expenses increased $2.7 million, or 5.5%, in 2011 compared to 2010. The changes in O&M expenses reflect higher utility operating costs of $1.9 million and higher employee compensation and benefit costs of $1.8 million, partially offset by a credit of $1.0 million for proceeds from insurance related settlements. Utility operating costs in 2011 include approximately $1.7 million of spending on vegetation management and reliability enhancement programs. These costs are recovered through cost tracker rate mechanisms that result in corresponding increases in revenue.

Unitils total electric kWh sales increased 4.5% in 2010 compared to 2009. Electric kWh sales to residential customers and C&I customers increased 5.5% and 3.8%, respectively, in 2010 compared to 2009. The increased sales reflect higher than average summer temperatures in the Companys utility service territories in 2010 where there were approximately 61% more Cooling Degree Days in the three month period ended September 30, 2010, compared to the prior year, coupled with an improving regional economy. According to ISO-New England, the regional transmission operator in New England, July of 2010 was the second-hottest July in New England since 1960 and New Englands all-time electricity consumption for one month was recorded in that month. On a weather-normalized basis, kWh sales in 2010 increased 1.6% compared to 2009.

Operation and MaintenanceO&M expense includes electric and gas utility operating costs, and the operating costs of the Companys non-regulated business activities. Total O&M expenses increased $2.7 million, or 5.5%, in 2011 compared to 2010. The changes in O&M expenses reflect higher utility operating costs of $1.9 million and higher employee compensation and benefit costs of $1.8 million, partially offset by a credit of $1.0 million for proceeds from insurance related settlements. Utility operating costs primarily consist of utility distribution and transmission system maintenance costs, bad debt expenses, office expenses and insurance costs. Utility operating costs in 2011 include approximately $1.7 million of spending on vegetation management and reliability enhancement programs. These costs are recovered through cost tracker rate mechanisms that result in corresponding increases in revenue.

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