Natural gas-focused energy company Questar Corp.STR reported second-quarter 2015 earnings of 23 cents per share beating the Zacks Consensus Estimate by a penny. The earnings were unchanged from the prior-year quarter. Continued growth in customer base and favorable results from the 2014 Utah rate case at its Questar Gas segment were partly offset by low transportation volumes and weak pricing.
Questar reported second-quarter revenues of $199.3 million, down marginally from the year-ago level of $201.3 million. Moreover, quarterly revenues failed to meet the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $299 million.
Questar Gas: The segment generated $141.7 million in revenues, down 2.3% from the prior-year quarter. Despite this, the segment reported an operating income of $1.4 million, significantly above the year-ago quarter profit of $0.3 million.
As of Jun 30, 2015, Questar Gas served 978,674 customers, up 2.6% from the year-ago quarter.
Wexpro: Segment revenues increased 29.5% year over year to $10.1 million in the quarter. Higher natural gas sales helped the results. Segment operating income from continuing operations, however, fell to $41.8 million from $45.8 million in the prior-year quarter.
Quarterly production of natural gas was down to 14.3 billion cubic feet (Bcf) from 17.7 Bcf.
Questar Pipeline: The segment reported revenues of $46.5 million as against $48.1 million in the comparable quarter last year. Lower transportation volumes adversely affected the result. Income from continuing operations came in at $29.3 million compared with $30.4 million reported in the second quarter of 2014.
Total natural gas transportation volume was $197.3 million decatherms compared with 205.9 million decatherms in the year-ago quarter.
The general and administrative expenses for the quarter decreased over 6% from the prior-year period to $27.4 million. Depreciation, depletion and amortization costs, on the other hand, fell 5.6% to $53.6 million. Total operating expense of $125.4 million increased from the year-ago period level of $124.9 million.
As of Jun 30, 2015, Questar had long-term debt (including current portion) of $1,282.1 million, with a debt-to-capitalization ratio of 49.4%.
For 2015, Questar reiterated it earnings projection in the range of $1.20-$1.30 per share.
Questar currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).
Some better-ranked players from the Utilities- Gas Distribution industry are Atmos Energy Corporation ATO , The Laclede Group, Inc. LG and New Jersey Resources Corp. NJR . All these stocks hold a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).
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