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NiSource posts improved 1Q net income of $197.3 million

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By KEVIN NEVERS

NiSource Inc. is reporting a net income of $197.3 million or 71 cents per share for the first quarter of 2010, compared to a net income of $148.4 million or 54 cents per share for the year-ago period.

“We continue to see solid results from NiSource’s low-risk, investment-driven strategy for meeting the needs of customers while generating long-term, sustainable earnings growth and increased shareholder value,” NiSource President and CEO Robert Skaggs Jr. said in a statement released today. “Our first quarter performance is squarely in line with our 2010 earnings outlook and reflects our balanced plan of synchronizing infrastructure investments with complementary regulatory and commercial activities.”

In addition, Skaggs pointed to a “modest uptick in industrial and residential demand in Indiana” at least in part attributable to an improved economy. “Although it is too early to identify a definitive trend, we continue to see a gradual and modest pace of economic recovery across the markets served by our utilities.”

With the Northern Indiana Public Service Company’s 2008 electric rate case pending, a brand-new electric rate case to be filed sometime in the second half of the year, and a natural gas rate case filed on Monday, Skaggs called 2010 a “pivotal year” for NiSource. “Executing our Indiana business and regulatory agenda requires a solid strategy, strong collaboration with all of our key stakeholders, and committed leadership. While it will certainly take time and a considerable amount of effort by the team, I believe we have the ingredients in place to deliver on that challenge.”

In addition, the statement noted, NIPSCO expects to invest more than $200 million this year in its generation fleet and service infrastructure “to continue providing reliable, environmentally compliant, and affordable energy to its Northern Indiana customers.”

NiSource is not providing a Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) earnings guidance “due to the unpredictability of weather and other factors.” But the company does anticipate a 3- to 5-percent growth in earnings “on a long-term basis.”

1Q Operating Income by Segment

•Gas distribution: $235.1 million ($243.2 in the year-ago period). The slightly lower result is “primarily attributable to Columbia Gas of Ohio’s change from a volumetrically based rate design to one based on fixed monthly charges for certain customer classes,” the statement said. But operating expenses were lower, “reflecting lower employee and administrative costs, other taxes, and environmental related expenses.”

•Gas transmission and storage: $125.9 million ($92.9 million in the year-ago period). The company cited increased net revenues “primarily attributable to increases in firm capacity reservation fees fro growth projects.”

•Electric: $45.1 million ($17.3 million in the year-ago period). The improved result is due to “increased industrial and residential customer margins” as well as to “lower employee, administrative, and electric generation costs,” the statement said.

•Corporate and other: an operating loss of $2.9 million (an operating loss of $5.0 million in the year-ago period.).

•Total operating income: $403.2 ($348.4 in the year-ago period).

 

 

Posted 5/4/2010

 

 

 

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