NiSource earnings rise strongly in 2012

2013-02-19T10:45:00Z 2013-02-19T17:00:19Z NiSource earnings rise strongly in 2012By Keith Benman keith.benman@nwi.com, (219) 933-3326 nwitimes.com
February 19, 2013 10:45 am  • 

NiSource Inc. profits increased 39 percent in 2012 mainly on higher revenues at its NIPSCO electric and Columbia gas transmission and storage business.

The Merrillville-headquartered utility holding company realized net income of $416.1 million, or $1.43 per share, as compared to $299.1 million, or $1.06 per share in 2011, according to the company's earnings report issued Tuesday morning.

“For NiSource, 2012 was a year of continued disciplined execution across all facets of our established infrastructure-investment-driven business strategy,” said NiSource President and Chief Executive Officer Robert C. Skaggs Jr.

NiSource stock was up 44 cents to $27.22 in morning trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

NiSource issued 2013 guidance of $1.50 to $1.60 per share for net operating earnings, which is a non-GAAP accounting measure the company uses to smooth out variations due to weather and one-time items.

For the fourth quarter, NiSource had net operating earnings of $136 million, or 44 cents per share, as compared to $89.2 million, or 32 cents per share, for the fourth quarter of 2011, according to the company's earnings report.

A $53.9 million loss on extinguishment of long-term debt in 2011 distorted NiSource's fourth quarter net earnings, which showed an even larger gain.

Skaggs emphasized the company continues to make large capital investments at both its utility subsidiaries like NIPSCO in northern Indiana and at its Columbia gas transmission and storage business. The company will undertake a $1.8 billion capital improvement program in 2013.

“With this deep inventory of identified infrastructure investment opportunities and a mature capital investment discipline, NiSource is on a solid trajectory to grow earnings and increase shareholder value for the foreseeable future,” Skaggs said.

NiSource continues to make major investments to exploit the burgeoning production of shale gas in Ohio, Pennsylvania and other states.

Skaggs told Wall Street analysts on a morning conference call its Big Pine Gathering System will go into service in April, representing a $160 million investment. A pipeline and processing project undertaken with Hilcorp Energy Co. will be completed by year-end, with NiSource investing $150 million in the project.

NiSource is also moving ahead with $410 million in pipeline projects on its Columbia Transmission system, one of which will bring natural gas from the Marcellus shale to the Gulf of Mexico and the other to northeastern and Mid-Atlantic markets.

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