The Empire District Electric Company Reports 2013 Earnings; Declares Quarterly Dividend; Provides 2014 Earnings Guidance
At the Board of Directors meeting of The Empire District Electric Company held on February 6th, the Directors declared a quarterly dividend of $0.255 per share. The dividend is payable March 17, 2014, to holders of record as of March 3, 2014. The Company, an operator of regulated electric, gas and water utilities, also announced results for the quarter and year ended December 31, 2013.
- The Company reported consolidated earnings for the year ended December 31, 2013 of $63.4 million, or basic and diluted earnings per share of $1.48. This compares to 2012 earnings of $55.7 million, or $1.32 per share. Earnings for the 2013 fourth quarter were $15.2 million, or $0.35 per share, compared with 2012 fourth quarter earnings of $9.6 million, or $0.23 per share.
- A colder than normal December lifted revenues, driving the increase in fourth quarter earnings. Increased revenues resulting from higher customer rates were largely offset by increases in operating, maintenance and depreciation expenses.
- The cold December weather also had a positive impact on annual 2013 revenues and earnings, along with increased year over year customer counts. Increased electric customer rates, effective in April 2013, also drove a positive change in year over year gross margin. These positive increases were partially offset by increases in electric operating expenses, depreciation and amortization expenses, and one-time regulatory write offs resulting from the Company's April 2013 rate case settlement. AFUDC was also a positive driver during the year.
- The Company expects 2014 earnings to be within the range of $1.38 to $1.50 per share.
- On December 3, 2013, the Company filed a request with the Arkansas Public Service Commission (APSC) for changes in rates for its Arkansas electric customers, seeking an annual increase in total revenue of approximately $2.2 million, or about 18%. The Company anticipates that any new rates approved by the APSC would not become effective until late summer 2014.
- On January 28, 2014, the Company announced that Michael E. Palmer will retire on March 31, 2014 as Vice President - Transmission Policy and Corporate Services.
Electric segment gross margin (electric revenue less fuel and purchased power costs) increased approximately $29.2 million during the year ended December 31, 2013, on increased revenues of approximately $25.7 million compared to 2012. Increased Missouri customer rates added an estimated $24.6 million to revenues, while customer growth added an estimated $2.7 million during 2013. Weather and other related factors added an estimated $3.1 million to revenue compared to 2012. The revenue items mentioned above had a positive impact on gross margin. A change in the Company's estimate for unbilled revenue of approximately $3.4 million, recorded in the third quarter of 2012, had the effect of negatively impacting results. A decrease in fuel recovery revenue of approximately $6.1 million reduced total revenue in 2013, however the decrease in fuel recovery revenue was offset by a corresponding decrease in fuel expense, resulting in no net impact on gross margin. Off-system revenue decreased slightly period over period with little impact on margin. Miscellaneous transmission and other revenues increased approximately $3.7 million.
Electric operating expense increased approximately $11.1 million in 2013 compared to 2012. The primary driver was increased transmission operating expenses of approximately $4.4 million due mainly to increased Southwest Power Pool (SPP) charges. Labor costs were $2.0 million higher compared to 2012. Power operating expense increased $1.3 million in 2013, due primarily to increased expenses at our Iatan generating station. A one-time regulatory reversal of a gain on sale of assets reduced earnings $1.2 million during 2013. Customer expenses were $0.9 million higher in 2013 compared to 2012. Increased pension and healthcare costs and property insurance expenses were offset by decreased professional service costs and line of credit fees. Maintenance expenses related to our generating fleet and transmission and distribution system increased slightly during 2013.
Electric segment depreciation expense increased $8.3 million during 2013 compared to 2012, due to increased electric depreciation rates and higher levels of electric plant in service. Other taxes were higher by approximately $3.3 million during 2013, primarily due to increased property taxes. The impact of a pre-tax write off of $2.4 million resulting from the April 2013 Missouri rate case settlement also negatively impacted earnings. AFUDC and interest expense changes combined to increase earnings approximately $4.4 million in 2013 compared to 2012.
Gas segment gross margin (gas revenues less cost of gas sold and transported) increased approximately $3.0 million in 2013 compared to 2012, on a 33.6% increase in retail sales, due primarily to colder weather during the 2013 heating season when compared to 2012. Operating expense increased about $0.5 million year over year.
Consolidated net income improved approximately $7.8 million in 2013 period compared to 2012.
2013 Fourth Quarter Results
Electric segment gross margin increased $13.0 million during the quarter ending December 31, 2013 compared to the 2012 quarter on increased revenues of approximately $16.1 million. Colder than normal weather experienced during the 2013 quarter drove an increase in revenues of $7.5 million over the 2012 quarter. Total heating degree days were an estimated 10% above the 30-year average and over 20% above the 2012 quarter. Increased electric customer rates added an estimated $5.9 million in revenues. Miscellaneous revenues, primarily related to Southwest Power Pool transmission revenues, added an estimated $1.3 million in revenues. Electric fuel costs increased slightly during the 2013 period resulting in a corresponding increase in the fuel cost component included in electric customer rates, raising both revenue and fuel expense.
Electric operating and maintenance expenses increased approximately $2.6 million during the fourth quarter of 2013, negatively impacting earnings. Depreciation expense was higher by approximately $2.2 million during the 2013 quarter, driven by higher depreciation rates and increased levels of plant in service. Increases in other taxes were partially offset by increased AFUDC.
Gas segment gross margin increased $0.9 million quarter over quarter on increased revenues of approximately $3.5 million. The colder than normal weather drove an increase in retail sales of nearly 25.0% quarter over quarter. Gas segment operating expenses increased approximately $0.4 million in the 2013 period compared to the 2012 period.
Consolidated net income was $5.6 million higher during the 2013 fourth quarter compared to 2012.
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Empire District Electric Company (MO)
602 S Joplin Ave
United States, 64802