Northeast Utilities Reports Year-End 2013 Results
Northeast Utilities (NYSE: NU) reported full-year 2013 earnings of $786 million, or $2.49 per share, compared with full-year 2012 earnings of $525.9 million, or $1.89 per share. Excluding integration and other costs related to the April 2012 merger of NU and NSTAR, NU earned $799.8 million in 2013, or $2.53 per share1, compared with $633.5 million in 2012, or $2.28 per share1. NSTAR's earnings are included in NU's results of operations, effective as of April 2012.
In the fourth quarter of 2013, NU earned $177.4 million, or $0.56 per share, compared with earnings of $174.7 million, or $0.55 per share, in the fourth quarter of 2012. Results include $3.2 million of after-tax integration-related costs in the fourth quarter of 2013 and $2.1 million of after-tax merger-related costs in the fourth quarter of 2012. Excluding those costs, NU earned $180.6 million, or $0.57 per share1, in the fourth quarter of 2013, compared with $176.8 million, or $0.56 per share1, in the fourth quarter of 2012.
Thomas J. May, NU chairman, president and chief executive officer, said, 'These full-year financial results are consistent with our previously announced 2013 recurring earnings guidance of between $2.45 and $2.60 per share1 and reflect very strong financial and operational performance in our first full year as a merged company.'
May highlighted a number of accomplishments in 2013:
- Strong electric service reliability and NU's best overall system performance on record;
- Significant progress in standardizing the operations of NU's four electric and two natural gas utilities, improving customer service and lowering operating costs;
- Completion of the Greater Springfield Reliability Project (GSRP) and the Cape Cod transmission project on schedule. GSRP was completed approximately 6 percent below its $718 million budget;
- 10,356 new natural gas heating customers at NU's natural gas utilities, nearly 17 percent above 2012 levels;
- Maintenance of top-tier industry credit ratings.
2014 Earnings Guidance
Also, NU projected 2014 earnings per share of between $2.60 and $2.75 and long-term earnings per share growth from 2012 through 2017 of between 6 percent and 8 percent.
NU's transmission segment earned $287 million for the full year of 2013, compared with earnings of $249.7 million for the full year of 2012, and $71.6 million in the fourth quarter of 2013, compared with $68.6 million in the fourth quarter of 2012. The earnings improvement for the full year primarily reflects continued investment in NU's transmission system, including completion of GSRP. Full year 2013 results also benefited from the inclusion of a full year of NSTAR Electric Company results, but were negatively affected by a $14.3 million after-tax charge recorded in the third quarter as a result of an ongoing complaint before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission concerning the authorized base return on equity earned by all New England electric transmission owners.
Electric Distribution and Generation
NU's electric distribution and generation segment earned $427 million for the full year of 2013, compared with $343.4 million for the full year of 2012. The 2012 results exclude merger and related settlement costs. Full year 2013 results benefited from the inclusion of a full year of NSTAR Electric results, lower operation and maintenance costs, and a 1 percent increase in retail electric sales, partially offset by higher depreciation and property tax expense. In the fourth quarter of 2013, the electric distribution and generation segment earned $79.5 million, compared with earnings of $80.3 million in the fourth quarter of 2012.
Earnings of Electric Utility Subsidiaries (net of preferred dividends)
The Connecticut Light and Power Company (CL&P) earned $273.9 million in 2013, compared with earnings of $242.6 million in 2012, excluding $38.4 million of after-tax merger and related settlement costs in 2012. Improved results reflect in part lower operation and maintenance costs and higher retail revenues due to a 1.3 percent increase in retail sales.
NSTAR Electric earned $266.4 million in 2013, the first full year of results since the merger.
Public Service Company of New Hampshire earned $111.4 million in 2013, compared with earnings of $96.9 million in 2012. Improved 2013 results were due primarily to improved generation results and a 1.5 percent increase in retail sales, as well as changes in distribution rates effective in both mid-2012 and mid-2013.
Western Massachusetts Electric Company (WMECO) earned $60.4 million in 2013, compared with $56.3 million in 2012, excluding $1.8 million of after-tax merger and related settlement costs. WMECO's 2013 results improved largely as a result of higher transmission earnings, which were primarily related to GSRP.
Natural Gas Distribution
NU's natural gas distribution segment, which includes Yankee Gas Services Company and NSTAR Gas Company, earned $60.9 million for the full year 2013 and $26.8 million in the fourth quarter of 2013, compared with $32.9 million for the full year of 2012 and $22.5 million in the fourth quarter of 2012. Improved full-year results reflect the inclusion of NSTAR Gas first-quarter results in 2013. Improved fourth quarter 2013 and full-year 2013 results also reflect colder weather in the fourth quarter of 2013, compared with the same period in 2012, as well as the addition of the 10,356 new natural gas heating customers noted above.
'We added a record number of new natural gas heating customers in 2013 and project significantly increased conversion activity over the next decade as homeowners and businesses in Connecticut and Massachusetts continue to embrace the cost and environmental advantages of installing natural gas systems as their primary heating source,' May said.
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