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ATMOS ENERGY CORPORATION REPORTS IMPROVED EARNINGS IN FIRST QUARTER

    ATMOS ENERGY CORPORATION REPORTS IMPROVED EARNINGS IN FIRST QUARTER
    DALLAS, Feb. 12 /PRNewswire/ -- Atmos Energy Corporation (NYSE: ATO) today reported net income of $4.7 million, or $.70 per share, for its first quarter ended Dec. 31, 1991.  These results represent a 30 percent increase in net income over the $3.6 million, or $.60 per share, earned in the previous year's first quarter.  Operating revenues for the quarter increased about 11 percent to $106.7 million from $96.2 million in the quarter a year ago.  Net income per share increased 17 percent on 6.8 million average shares outstanding, compared with 6.1 million average shares outstanding in the previous year's quarter.
    The improved earnings are the result of rate increases and weather that was about 12 percent colder than the same quarter last year.  The weather for the quarter was also 3 percent colder than normal. Operating expenses were higher than last year's first quarter, primarily because of increased labor and employee benefit, and general and administrative expense.
    Gas deliveries increased from 30.6 billion cubic feet (Bcf) in last year's first quarter to 32.6 Bcf in the current quarter, reflecting colder weather and increased customers.
    "Our improved earnings show the effect of a return to more normal weather and the implementation of $4.9 million in annual increased rates in our West Texas service area and an additional $2.6 million annually in Kentucky gained on appeal," said Charles K. Vaughan, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Atmos.
    The company continues to evaluate its rates.  The company announced today that it filed a rate increase request Feb. 11, 1992, with the City of Amarillo, Texas, for an additional $4.4 million, or 12 percent, per year in increased revenues.  The proposed effective date is March 17, 1992, though the city may suspend action until June 15, 1992.  In addition, the company has pending with the Louisiana Public Service Commission a $3.4 million annual rate increase request.
    "The company is continuing its strategy of lessening its dependence on winter heating sales by working to increase sales to industrial customers and to develop new markets such as natural gas for vehicles. During the first quarter, we opened four retail natural gas refueling facilities in Texas and Louisiana, which over the long term could prove to be an important new market," Vaughan said.
    The board of directors of Atmos declared a $.31 per share quarterly dividend on the company's common stock to be paid on March 10, 1992, to shareholders of record on Feb. 25, 1992.
    Atmos Energy Corporation provides natural gas service to more than one-half million customers in Texas, Louisiana and Kentucky through its operating companies - Energas Company, Trans Louisiana Gas Company and Western Kentucky Gas Company.
             Atmos Energy Corporation Financial Highlights
                (In thousands, except per share data)
       Three months ended Dec. 31    1991              1990
    Operating Revenues            $106,734          $ 96,168
    Net Income                       4,736             3,635
    Net Income Per Share               .70               .60
    Cash Dividends Per Share           .31               .30
    Average Shares Outstanding       6,797             6,107
    -0-                           2/12/92
    /CONTACT:  Margaret Watson, 214-450-4050, or investor contact, Jack Eversull, 214-788-3729, both of Atmos Energy/
    (ATO) CO:  Atmos Energy Corporation ST:  Texas IN:  UTI SU:  ERN AH -- NY031 -- 9167 02/12/92 10:52 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Feb 12, 1992
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