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Gas Natural Inc. Reports 2016 Fourth Quarter and Full Year Results

CLEVELAND, March 16, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Gas Natural Inc. (NYSE MKT: EGAS) (the "Company"), a holding company operating local natural gas utilities serving approximately 69,400 customers in four states, reported financial results for the fourth quarter and year ended December 31, 2016.  Comparative results for the fourth quarter, and for full year 2016, do not include the results of the Kentucky and Pennsylvania utilities which were divested in the fourth quarter of 2015 ("Divestitures"). 

Fourth Quarter 2016 Summary

  • Full service distribution throughput increased due to the addition of approximately 800 new customers in the quarter
  • Net income from continuing operations improved to $0.13 per share from $0.07 in 2015
  • Merger approval process with regulators is progressing as anticipated

Mr. Gregory J. Osborne, Gas Natural's President and Chief Executive Officer, commented, "We grew revenue and gross margin in the quarter as a result of growing our customer base.  This is a testament to our keen focus on operations and growth."

He added, "In December, our shareholders overwhelmingly approved our announced plan to be acquired by First Reserve.  The process to obtain approval from the regulatory authorities in Maine, Montana, North Carolina and Ohio is progressing as anticipated.  We continue to expect completion of the transaction in the second half of 2017."

Fourth Quarter and 2016 Operations Review



Three Months Ended


Years Ended

(in thousands)

December 31,


December 31,



2016


2015


2016


2015

Revenue by segment:








Natural Gas Operations

$ 27,251


$ 26,575


$       87,464


$ 103,978

Marketing & Production

3,495


2,923


11,977


8,383

Consolidated

$ 30,746


$ 29,498


$       99,441


$ 112,361

 

Revenue for the fourth quarter of 2016 increased approximately 4% over the prior-year quarter.  Both of the Company's operating segments contributed to the increase.  The Natural Gas Operations segment experienced higher volume driven by customer growth, partially offset by lower natural gas prices and $0.2 million less revenue from the Divestitures.  The Marketing & Production segment recognized higher sales to the Company's former Wyoming operations which were divested in the third quarter of 2015.  Previously, such sales were recorded as intercompany and eliminated from consolidated revenue.

Revenue for 2016 was down approximately 11% compared with the prior year.  The increase in Marketing & Production was for the same reason as described above for the fourth quarter.  This was more than offset by the Natural Gas Operations segment that was impacted by lower volume due to warmer weather earlier in the year, lower gas prices, and a $1.6 million reduction from the Divestitures.

Changes in Gross Margin
(in thousands)

Three Months
Ended


Years
Ended


December 31, 2016

2015 Gross Margin

$          12,255


$ 44,209

Utilities sold

117


(299)

Weather and other volume changes

347


(1,695)

Impact of paper mill closures

(125)


(1,826)

Gas cost adjustment

-


693

New utility customers

226


1,304

Natural Gas Operations change

565


(1,823)

New marketing customers

214


513

Pricing and other

136


25

Marketing & Production change

350


538

Consolidated gross margin change

915


(1,285)

2016 Gross Margin

$          13,170


$ 42,924





 

Gross margin for the fourth quarter of 2016 increased 7% compared with the prior-year period primarily due to increased full service distribution throughput to new customers and colder weather, partially offset by the impact of paper mill closures in Maine.  Customer count grew by approximately 800 in the fourth quarter to 69,400, compared with the end of the third quarter of 2016. 

Gross margin for 2016 decreased 3% compared with the prior-year period.  The decrease was primarily the result of warmer weather earlier in the year in most of the Company's markets, the impact of closed paper mills in Maine, and the Divestitures, partially offset by new customers and the effect of a gas cost adjustment recorded in 2015.



Three Months Ended


Years Ended

(in thousands)

December 31,


December 31,



2016


2015


2016


2015

Operating income by segment:








Natural Gas Operations

$   3,511


$   1,857


$         6,198


$     7,852

Marketing & Production

314


(45)


1,184


(81)

Corporate & Other

(1,367)


(388)


(4,330)


(2,667)

Consolidated

$   2,458


$   1,424


$         3,052


$     5,104










Non-GAAP Adjusted EBITDA*

$   5,895


$   3,765


$       15,172


$   16,391

 

*See the attached tables for important disclosures regarding the Company's use of earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, amortization, accretion, non-recurring expenses and discontinued operations ("Adjusted EBITDA") as well as reconciliations of U.S. generally accepted accounting principles ("GAAP") net income to non-GAAP Adjusted EBITDA for the 2016 and 2015 fourth quarter and annual periods.

For the fourth quarter of 2016, operating income was $1.0 million higher than the prior-year quarter primarily due to higher gross margin.  Comparing the annual periods, 2016 operating income was $2.1 million lower than 2015, primarily due to lower gross margin.   

Within the Natural Gas Operations segment, operating expenses for the quarter decreased $1.1 million as legal and professional expenses were down $0.3 million and personnel costs were also down $0.3 million.  Those reductions were partially offset by increased spending on information technology. 

On a full year basis, the Natural Gas Operations' operating expenses were $0.2 million lower than the prior year, primarily due to a $0.7 million decrease in expenditures for professional services and a$0.6 million ongoing reduction of expenses due to the Divestitures.  Those decreases were partially offset by higher spending on information technology.  The Marketing & Production segment benefited from the favorable settlement of a legal matter in the second quarter of 2016.  Litigation, settlement and proxy contest costs drove increased expenses within the Corporate & Other segment.   

Adjusted EBITDA, a non-GAAP financial measure, was up approximately $2.1 million primarily due to higher gross margin in the 2016 fourth quarter and higher non-recurring items.  On a full year basis, Adjusted EBITDA was unfavorably impacted by lower gross margin and higher information technology costs.  The Company believes that, when used in conjunction with measures prepared in accordance with GAAP, Adjusted EBITDA, which is a non-GAAP measure, helps in the understanding of its financial performance.  

Excluding discrete items, the effective tax rates were 36.1% and 37.2% for the fourth quarters of 2016 and 2015, respectively.  Excluding discrete items for the annual periods, the effective tax rates were 36.5% and 38.1% for 2016 and 2015, respectively.  The improvements in 2016 resulted from the benefit of an R&D tax credit and a favorable change in the Company's blended state tax rate.  

Balance Sheet and Cash Management

Cash and cash equivalents as of December 31, 2016 grew to $6.5 million from $2.7 million at December 31, 2015. 

Cash provided by operating activities in 2016 was $11.4 million compared with $9.4 million in 2015, with the increase primarily due to lower working capital requirements related to the lower price of natural gas. 

Capital expenditures for 2016 were $7.5 million compared with $9.6 million in 2015.  Capital expenditures included approximately $1.9 million and $1.5 million in 2016 and 2015, respectively, for the portion of the Company's ERP system that was not financed under a lease agreement.  The Company has budgeted $10 million for capital expenditures in 2017, with the majority focused on growth of its Natural Gas Operations segment, including construction activities to support expansion, maintenance and enhancements of its gas pipeline systems.

Cash used in financing activities was $1.5 million in 2016 compared with $19.3 million in 2015.  Debt repayment was the primary use of cash in both periods.

About Gas Natural Inc.

Gas Natural Inc., a holding company, distributes and sells natural gas to residential, commercial, and industrial customers.  It distributes approximately 21 billion cubic feet of natural gas to roughly 69,400 customers through regulated utilities operating in Montana, Ohio, Maine and North Carolina.  The Company's other operations include intrastate pipeline, natural gas production, and natural gas marketing.  The Company's Montana public utility was originally incorporated in 1909.  Its strategy for growth is to expand throughput in its markets, while looking for acquisitions that are either adjacent to its existing utilities or in under-served markets.  Further information is available on the Company's website at www.egas.net.

Safe Harbor Regarding Forward-Looking Statements

The Company is including the following cautionary statement in this release to make applicable and to take advantage of the safe harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 for any forward-looking statements made by, or on behalf of, Gas Natural Inc. Forward-looking statements are all statements other than statements of historical fact, including, without limitation, those that are identified by the use of the words "anticipates," "estimates," "expects," "intends," "plans," "predicts," "believes" and similar expressions. Such statements are inherently subject to a variety of risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed. Factors that may affect forward-looking statements and the Company's business generally include, but are not limited to the Company's ability to successfully integrate the operations of the companies it has acquired and consummate additional acquisitions; the Company's continued ability to make or increase dividend payments; the Company's ability to implement its business plan, grow earnings and improve returns on investment; fluctuating energy commodity prices; the possibility that regulators may not permit the Company to pass through all of its increased costs to its customers; changes in the utility regulatory environment; wholesale and retail competition; the Company's ability to satisfy its debt obligations, including compliance with financial covenants; weather conditions; litigation risks; and various other matters, many of which are beyond the Company's control; the risk factors and cautionary statements made in the Company's public filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission; and other factors that the Company is currently unable to identify or quantify, but may exist in the future. Gas Natural Inc. expressly undertakes no obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statement contained herein to reflect any change in Gas Natural Inc.'s expectations with regard thereto or any change in events, conditions or circumstances on which any such statement is based.

Additional Information and Where to Find It

In connection with the transaction with First Reserve described above, on November 23, 2016, the Company filed with the SEC and sent to its stockholders a definitive proxy statement. INVESTORS AND SECURITY HOLDERS OF THE COMPANY ARE URGED TO READ CAREFULLY AND IN THEIR ENTIRETY THE DEFINITIVE PROXY STATEMENT AND ANY OTHER RELEVANT DOCUMENTS FILED WITH THE SEC WHEN THEY BECOME AVAILABLE. Investors and security holders may obtain a free copy of the definitive proxy statement and other documents filed with the SEC.

For more information, contact:

Gas Natural Inc.

Investor Relations

James E. Sprague, Chief Financial Officer

Deborah K. Pawlowski or Karen L. Howard, Kei Advisors LLC

Phone: (216) 202-1564

Phone:  (716) 843-3908 / (716) 843-3942

Email:  jsprague@egas.net

Email:  dpawlowski@keiadvisors.com / khoward@keiadvisors.com

FINANCIAL TABLES FOLLOW.

 

Gas Natural Inc. and Subsidiaries

Consolidated Statements of Income

(in thousands, except share and per share data)










Three Months Ended


Years Ended


December 31,


December 31,


2016


2015


2016


2015

REVENUE








Natural gas operations

$      27,251


$      26,575


$      87,464


$    103,978

Marketing and production

3,495


2,923


11,977


8,383

Total revenue

30,746


29,498


99,441


112,361









COST OF SALES








Natural gas purchased

14,602


14,492


45,812


60,502

Marketing and production

2,974


2,751


10,705


7,650

Total cost of sales

17,576


17,243


56,517


68,152









GROSS MARGIN

13,170


12,255


42,924


44,209









OPERATING EXPENSES








Distribution, general, and administrative

7,343


7,131


27,338


26,104

Maintenance

269


551


984


1,422

Depreciation, amortization and accretion

2,053


1,909


8,034


7,257

Taxes other than income

964


1,096


4,006


4,119

Provision for doubtful accounts

83


144


182


278

Contingent consideration gain

-


-


(672)


(75)

Total operating expenses

10,712


10,831


39,872


39,105









OPERATING INCOME 

2,458


1,424


3,052


5,104









Other income (loss), net

83


416


(65)


86

Interest expense

(856)


(1,037)


(3,169)


(3,604)

Income (loss) before income taxes

1,685


803


(182)


1,586

Income tax (expense) benefit

(365)


(74)


707


(417)

INCOME FROM CONTINUING OPERATIONS

1,320


729


525


1,169









Discontinued operations, net of income taxes

(5)


(526)


(12)


3,519









NET INCOME

$        1,315


$           203


$           513


$        4,688









Basic weighted shares outstanding

10,518,062


10,504,319


10,510,644


10,496,979

Dilutive effect of restricted stock awards

733


1,476


623


1,476

Diluted weighted shares outstanding

10,518,795


10,505,795


10,511,267


10,498,455









BASIC & DILUTED EARNINGS PER SHARE:








Continuing operations

$          0.13


$          0.07


$          0.05


$          0.11

Discontinued operations

-


(0.05)


-


0.34

Net income per share

$          0.13


$          0.02


$          0.05


$          0.45









Weighted average dividends declared per common share

$        0.075


$        0.270


$        0.300


$        0.540

 

Gas Natural Inc. and Subsidiaries

Consolidated Balance Sheets

(in thousands)


December 31,


December 31,


2016


2015





ASSETS




CURRENT ASSETS




Cash and cash equivalents

$            6,463


$            2,728

Accounts receivable, less allowance for doubtful accounts of $385 and $506, respectively

11,093


10,823

Unbilled gas

7,256


6,995

Inventory




Natural gas

3,380


4,063

Materials and supplies

2,065


2,271

Regulatory assets, current

3,131


2,469

Other current assets

2,423


2,174

Total current assets

35,811


31,523





PROPERTY, PLANT, & EQUIPMENT, NET

139,691


142,416





OTHER ASSETS




Regulatory assets, non-current

1,032


1,523

Goodwill

15,872


15,872

Customer relationships, net of amortization

2,322


2,625

Restricted cash

-


1,898

Other non-current assets

2,696


1,530

Total other assets

21,922


23,448

TOTAL ASSETS

$        197,424


$        197,387

 

Gas Natural Inc. and Subsidiaries

Consolidated Balance Sheets

(in thousands, except share and per share data)


December 31,


December 31,


2016


2015





LIABILITIES AND CAPITALIZATION




CURRENT LIABILITIES




Line of credit

$          13,450


$          15,750

Accounts payable

10,055


8,976

Notes payable, current portion

-


5,012

Note payable to related party

-


1,980

Accrued liabilities

8,265


6,873

Regulatory liability, current

-


487

Build-to-suit liability

-


2,041

Capital lease liability

3,618


2,876

Other current liabilities

1,097


1,467

Total current liabilities

36,485


45,462





LONG-TERM LIABILITIES




Deferred tax liability

11,280


12,295

Regulatory liability, non-current 

1,417


1,251

Capital lease liability, non-current

2,780


5,177

Other long-term liabilities

3,113


3,286

Total long-term liabilities

18,590


22,009





NOTES PAYABLE, less current portion

49,392


34,427





COMMITMENTS AND CONTINGENCIES








STOCKHOLDERS' EQUITY




Preferred stock; $0.15 par value; 1,500,000 shares authorized,
      no shares issued or outstanding

-


-

Common stock; $0.15 par value; Authorized: 30,000,000 shares;
      Issued and outstanding: 10,519,728 and 10,504,734 shares
      as of December 31, 2016 and  2015, respectively

1,578


1,575

Capital in excess of par value

64,092


63,985

Retained earnings

27,287


29,929

Total stockholders' equity

92,957


95,489

TOTAL CAPITALIZATION

142,349


129,916

TOTAL LIABILITIES AND CAPITALIZATION

$        197,424


$        197,387

 

Gas Natural Inc. and Subsidiaries

Consolidated Statements of Cash Flows

(in thousands)


Years Ended December 31,






2016


2015

CASH FLOWS FROM OPERATING ACTIVITIES




Net income

$    513


$ 4,688

Less (loss) incomefrom discontinued operations

(12)


3,519

Incomefrom continuing operations

525


1,169

Adjustments to reconcile incomefrom continuing operations to net cash provided by operating activities:




Depreciation and amortization

8,034


7,236

Accretion

-


21

Amortization of debt issuance costs

487


656

Provision for doubtful accounts

182


278

Amortization of deferred loss on sale-leaseback

1,015


358

Stock based compensation

107


161

Loss (gain) on sale of assets

589


(118)

Unrealized holding gain on contingent consideration

(672)


(75)

Change in fair value of derivative financial instruments

(193)


(96)

Deferred income taxes

(702)


2,150

Changes in assets and liabilities:




Accounts receivable, including related parties

(451)


1,293

Unbilled gas

(261)


658

Natural gas inventory

683


1,239

Accounts payable, including related parties

1,271


(4,665)

Regulatory assets and liabilities

(1,148)


(1,283)

Other assets

427


(680)

Other liabilities

1,472


1,122

Net cash provided by operating activities of continuing operations

11,365


9,424





CASH FLOWS FROM INVESTING ACTIVITIES




Capital expenditures

(7,525)


(9,567)

Proceeds from sale of fixed assets

25


4,054

Proceeds from note receivable

-


92

Customer advances for construction

78


33

Contributions in aid of construction

1,351


1,193

Net cash used in investing activities of continuing operations

(6,071)


(4,195)





CASH FLOWS FROM FINANCING ACTIVITIES




Proceeds from lines of credit 

24,750


14,150

Repayments of lines of credit

(27,050)


(27,161)

Proceeds from notes payable, including related parties

53,993


8,000

Repayments of notes payable, including related parties

(45,715)


(6,542)

Payments of capital lease obligations

(3,328)


(1,845)

Debt issuance costs paid

(1,990)


(235)

Restricted cash - debt service fund

948


-

Dividends paid

(3,155)


(5,670)

Net cash used in financing activities of continuing operations

(1,547)


(19,303)





DISCONTINUED OPERATIONS




Operating cash flows

(12)


845

Investing cash flows

-


14,371

Net cash (used in) provided by discontinued operations

(12)


15,216





NET INCREASE IN CASH AND CASH EQUIVALENTS

3,735


1,142

Cash and cash equivalents, beginning of period

2,728


1,586





CASH AND CASH EQUIVALENTS, END OF PERIOD

$ 6,463


$ 2,728

 

Gas Natural Inc. and Subsidiaries

   Natural Gas Operations









Utility Throughput

















Three Months Ended December 31,


Years Ended December 31,

(in million cubic feet (MMcf))

2016


2015


2016


2015









Full service distribution:








Energy West Montana (MT)

1,064


1,037


3,080


3,076

Frontier Natural Gas (NC)

288


258


1,014


926

Bangor Gas (ME)

530


473


1,528


1,727

Ohio Companies (OH)

1,163


968


3,419


3,560

Public Gas (KY)

-


19


-


111

Total full service distribution

3,045


2,755


9,041


9,400









Transportation

2,812


2,504


11,377


10,610

Bucksport

5


60


139


597









Total volumes

5,862


5,319


20,557


20,607

 

Heating Degree Days














Three Months Ended


Percent Colder (Warmer)





December 31,


2016 Compared to



Normal


2016


2015


Normal


2015












Great Falls, MT

2,570


2,872


2,683


11.75%


7.04%

Bangor, ME

2,526


2,564


2,321


1.50%


10.47%

Elkin, NC

1,469


1,435


1,174


(2.31%)


22.23%

Lancaster, OH 

2,402


1,853


1,462


(22.86%)


26.74%


Total Weighted Average

2,443


2,361


2,088


(3.36%)


13.07%



























Years Ended


Percent Colder (Warmer)





December 31,


2016 Compared to



Normal


2016


2015


Normal


2015












Great Falls, MT

6,929


7,049


6,916


1.73%


1.92%

Bangor, ME

7,483


7,174


8,058


(4.13%)


(10.97%)

Elkin, NC

3,837


4,029


3,831


5.00%


5.17%

Lancaster, OH 

5,889


5,053


5,281


(14.20%)


(4.32%)


Total Weighted Average

6,403


6,101


6,211


(4.72%)


(1.77%)

 

Gas Natural Inc. and Subsidiaries

Reconciliation of GAAP Net Income to Non-GAAP Adjusted Net Income(2)

 





(in thousands, except per share data)

Three Months Ended


Years Ended

December 31,


December 31,


2016


2015


2016


2015

GAAP net income

$ 1,315


$ 203


$    513


$ 4,688

Add back, pre-tax:








Non-recurring legal, professional and settlement costs

1,251


484


4,242


2,498

Non-recurring regulatory and other expenses

-


-


-


1,111

Gain on cancellation of contingent consideration liability

-


-


(672)


-

Loss on disposal of assets

50


(468)


581


335

Tax effect of non-GAAP continuing operations items(1)

(470)


152


(1,515)


(1,502)

Discontinued operations

5


526


12


(3,519)

Non-GAAP Adjusted net income(2)

$ 2,151


$ 897


$ 3,161


$ 3,611









Non-GAAP Adjusted net income per diluted share(2)

$   0.20


$0.09


$   0.30


$   0.34



(1) 

Applies an effective tax rate of 36.1%, 37.2%, 36.5% and 38.1% to the non-GAAP pre-tax adjustments for the periods presented above, respectively, consistent with the actual effective tax rates for those periods excluding nonrecurring tax items.



(2)

Non-GAAP Financial Measures:


The Company believes that, when used in conjunction with GAAP measures, Adjusted Net Income and Adjusted EBITDA, or earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, amortization, accretion, non-recurring charges and discontinued operations, which are non-GAAP measures, allow investors to view its performance in a manner similar to the methods used by management and provides additional insight into its operating results.  Adjusted Net Income and Adjusted EBITDA are not calculated through the application of GAAP and are not the required form of disclosure by the Securities and Exchange Commission.  As such, these measures should not be considered as a substitute for the GAAP measure of net income and, therefore, should not be used in isolation of, but in conjunction with, the GAAP measure.  The use of any non-GAAP measure may produce results that vary from the GAAP measure and may not be comparable to a similarly defined non-GAAP measure used by other companies.

 

Gas Natural Inc. and Subsidiaries
Reconciliation of GAAP Net Income to Non-GAAP Adjusted EBITDA(2)





(in thousands)

Three Months Ended


Years Ended

December 31,


December 31,


2016


2015


2016


2015

GAAP net income

$ 1,315


$    203


$      513


$   4,688

Add back:








Net interest expense

856


1,037


3,169


3,604

Income tax (benefit) expense

365


74


(707)


417

Depreciation, amortization and accretion

2,053


1,909


8,034


7,257

Non-recurring legal, professional and settlement costs

1,251


484


4,242


2,498

Non-recurring regulatory and other expenses

-


-


-


1,111

Gain on cancellation of contingent consideration liability

-


-


(672)


-

Loss (gain) on disposal of assets

50


(468)


581


335

Discontinued operations

5


526


12


(3,519)

Non-GAAP Adjusted EBITDA(2)

$ 5,895


$ 3,765


$ 15,172


$ 16,391



(2)

Non-GAAP Financial Measures:


The Company believes that, when used in conjunction with GAAP measures, Adjusted Net Income and Adjusted EBITDA, or earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, amortization, accretion, non-recurring charges and discontinued operations, which are non-GAAP measures, allow investors to view its performance in a manner similar to the methods used by management and provide additional insight into its operating results.  Adjusted Net Income and Adjusted EBITDA are not calculated through the application of GAAP and are not the required form of disclosure by the Securities and Exchange Commission.  As such, these measures should not be considered as a substitute for the GAAP measure of net income and, therefore, should not be used in isolation of, but in conjunction with, the GAAP measure.  The use of any non-GAAP measure may produce results that vary from the GAAP measure and may not be comparable to a similarly defined non-GAAP measure used by other companies.

 

To view the original version on PR Newswire, visit:http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/gas-natural-inc-reports-2016-fourth-quarter-and-full-year-results-300424523.html

SOURCE Gas Natural Inc.




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About Gas Natural, Inc.

Gas Natural Inc. (NYSE American: EGAS), a holding company, distributes and sells natural gas to end-use residential, commercial and industrial customers. It distributes approximately 26 billion cubic feet of natural gas to approximately 68,000 customers through regulated utilities operating in Montana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maine, North Carolina and Kentucky. The Company’s other operations include natural gas production and natural gas marketing. The Company's Montana public utility was originally incorporated in 1909. In October 2014, the Company announced the sale of its subsidiary, Energy West Wyoming, Inc., as well its Wyoming pipeline assets and related real estate, equipment and contracts. The divestiture is expected to close in mid-2015.