Piedmont Natural Gas Co Inc PNY
Q1 2013 Earnings Call Transcript

Transcript Call Date 03/07/2013

Operator: Good day. Welcome to Piedmont Natural Gas First Quarter 2013 Earnings Conference Call. Today's conference is being recorded.

At this time, I would like to turn the call over to Nick Giaimo. Please go ahead, sir.

Nicholas Giaimo - IR: Thank you, Alicia. Good morning, everyone, and thank you for joining the Piedmont Natural Gas First Quarter 2013 Earnings Conference Call. This call is open to the general public and is being webcast live over the Internet. If you would like to access the webcast of this call or view the slides of the accompanying presentation, please visit our website at and choose the For Investors link. On the right-hand side of that page, you'll find the appropriate links.

On the call today presenting prepared remarks, we have Tom Skains, President, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer; and Karl Newlin, Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer. Other officers of the Company are also in attendance to take your questions.

Finally, this call may include forward-looking statements, and our actual results may materially differ from those statements. More information about the risks and uncertainties relating to these forward-looking statements may be found in Piedmont's first quarter Form 10-Q, filed Wednesday, March 6, with the SEC.

With that, I will turn the call over to Tom.

Thomas E. Skains - Chairman, President and CEO: Thank you, Nick, and good morning, everybody, and thank you for joining us for our first quarter 2013 earnings conference call. As you know, we filed our first quarter 10-Q and issued our earnings release late yesterday afternoon. This morning, I'm going to talk about our year-to-date accomplishments and provide you with the general update on the Company. Then I'll turn it over to Karl Newlin to give you a more detailed discussion of our first quarter financial results.

We're off to a great start in 2013. As you see on Slide 2, we reported net income of $85.9 million and diluted earnings per share of $1.18 in the first quarter, up 13% and 12%, respectively, from the first quarter of last year. We were also pleased to see continued customer growth during the quarter with the addition of more than 3,700 new customers, a 9% improvement from last year's quarter. We're working diligently on our $550 million to $600 million capital expansion program for fiscal year 2013, driven by an estimated $250 million of system integrity expenditures as well as the completion of the Sutton project, which is on schedule for its June 1st in service day. I'll talk more about our capital expenditures in just a moment.

Earlier this year, we completed a secondary equity offering of 4.6 million shares to help fund the growth of our Company through a combination of direct issuances and equity forwards. Karl will outline the details of our equity offering in his remarks. Yesterday, our Board, demonstrating its confidence in the Company, increased the quarterly dividend from $0.30 to $0.31 per share. This is the 35th consecutive year the Board has raised the dividend. Finally, we reaffirmed our 2013 earnings per share guidance range yesterday of $1.67 to $1.77 per share.

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