NiSource 2nd quarter earnings up slightly

2013-07-31T15:15:00Z 2013-07-31T18:00:04Z NiSource 2nd quarter earnings up slightlyBy Keith Benman, (219) 933-3326

NiSource Inc.'s net income increased to $71.7 million in the second quarter, a 3.3 percent increase from a net income of $69.4 million in the second quarter of 2012.

Earnings per share dropped to 23 cents per share from 25 cents per share in the year-ago quarter, due to a forward sale equity issuance of $340 million in September, which added 24 million shares outstanding.

“Through steady, consistent execution on NiSource’s infrastructure-focused investment strategy, our team delivered second quarter results solidly in line with our expectations and consistent with our full-year earnings guidance of $1.50 to $1.60 per share (non-GAAP),” said President and CEO Robert Skaggs Jr.

NiSource is the parent company of NIPSCO, which has 457,000 electric and 786,000 natural gas customers in northern Indiana. NiSource, headquartered in Merrillville, also owns utilities in six other states as well as a gas transmission business serving 16 states.

Skaggs and other NiSource executives on a morning conference call Wednesday told Wall Street analysts about NIPSCO's recent request of state regulators to perform $1 billion in infrastructure improvements by the end of the decade.

That plan would also include bill surcharges that would hike electric bills by more than 5 percent by 2020. The company is also required to file a rate case with state regulators while the improvements are underway, with one executive on the call telling analysts the rate case most likely will not be filed until near the end of the decade.

NiSource also announced on Wednesday it will increase its overall funding of capital projects in 2013 to $2 billion from its previously announced figure of $1.8 billion. A significant portion of the increased investment will be targeted to modernizing aging infrastructure, according to NiSource.

The announcement of the increased investment comes on the same week that residents of Sissonville, W. Va., filed lawsuits against NiSource and its Columbia Gas Transmission subsidiary over a pipeline explosion that occurred there Dec. 11.

That explosion triggered a massive fire that cooked Interstate 77, destroyed several homes and damaged others. There were no injuries. The National Transportation Safety Board has said the 20-inch natural gas pipeline showed signs of external corrosion and had thinned to about one-third of the recommended thickness in some spots.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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