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UTILICORP ANNOUNCES PRELIMINARY 1992 RESULTS; COMPLETES NEBRASKA GAS SYSTEM ACQUISITION; UPDATES NEW ZEALAND JOINT VENTURE

 ST. LOUIS, Feb. 2 /PRNewswire/ -- UtiliCorp United (NYSE: UCU) today released preliminary financial results for 1992 that were substantially below results in the prior year. Fourth quarter results also were lower than those of the 1991 quarter, despite a return to relatively normal weather during the period.
 UtiliCorp also announced that it has completed the previously announced $78 million acquisition of a Nebraska gas distribution system from the Minnegasco division of Arkla, Inc. (NYSE: ALG). The system serves 124,000 customers in eastern Nebraska, including the state capital of Lincoln. Earnings from the new system, which will be operated as a part of UtiliCorp's Peoples Natural Gas division, will be reflected in the first quarter of 1993.
 UtiliCorp recently announced that it has entered into a separate agreement with Arkla to purchase a gas system serving areas near Wichita, Kan. That $25 million acquisition is expected to be completed later this year.
 In another development, UtiliCorp recently agreed to take a smaller ownership stake in its joint venture arrangement with the Waikato Electricity Authority in Hamilton, New Zealand. Under the new arrangement, UtiliCorp will purchase a 33 percent interest in the Waikato-based WEL Energy Group Ltd, versus the 49 percent interest announced previously. The agreement is expected to be completed in late March.
 The new arrangement allows for a 33 percent public ownership stake in the electric utility company along with a 33 percent interest by the Waikato Electricity Authority. Under the revised joint venture, UtiliCorp will pay approximately $20 million into the joint venture over time upon the discretionary call of the WEL board of directors.
 In a presentation today to shareholders and securities analysts in St. Louis, UtiliCorp Chairman and President Richard C. Green, Jr. noted that 1992 earnings were affected by abnormally mild weather during the first quarter heating season and summer cooling season, a need for rate relief in several regulatory jurisdictions, and problems at UtiliCorp's Aquila Energy subsidiary.
 Preliminary net income for the year ended Dec. 31, 1992 was $52.9 million, compared with $77.6 million in 1991. Preliminary primary earnings per average common share were $1.32, versus $2.37 in the prior year. Revenues for 1992 were $1.3 billion, versus $1.1 billion in 1991.
 For the fourth quarter, preliminary net income was $25.6 million, compared with $28.3 million in the 1991 fourth quarter. Primary earnings per average common share were $.68, versus $.82 in the 1991 period. Revenues for the 1992 quarter were $405 million, versus $375 million in the prior year's quarter.
 Net income and earning per share reported during 1991 have been restated due to the recent adoption of the full cost method of accounting for oil and gas properties.
 Average common shares outstanding have increased from 29.4 million in 1991 to 34.9 million in 1992. The increase is due primarily to a public offering of 5 million shares in late 1991.
 During 1992, UtiliCorp took two charges against earnings totalling $11.3 million after taxes (or $.32 per share) as a result of an apparent misappropriation of funds at a subsidiary of Aquila Energy. UtiliCorp continues to pursue litigation against two former officers of that subsidiary, seeking recovery of improper payments and damages.
 In addition to the charges against earnings, Aquila's 1992 performance was negatively affected by lower margins on long-term, fixed-price gas sales contracts. In the 1992 fourth quarter, lower prices on natural gas liquids reduced financial results compared with the 1991 quarter.
 In 1992, Aquila adopted a revised business strategy aimed at minimizing future earnings volatility. The new strategy provides that long-lived reserves support long-term gas sales contracts, relies less on the 30-day spot market for profits and dedicates the reserve portfolio in total to the support of long-term marketing efforts. The strategy also allows for implementation of a conservative drilling program to fully develop oil and gas reserve properties.
 In 1992, UtiliCorp implemented or reached agreements authorizing rate increases totalling $14.9 million in annualized revenues. Electric and gas rate increase requests by the company's Missouri Public Service division are expected to be decided later this year. Action also is expected this year on a pending electric rate increase at UtiliCorp's West Kootenay Power subsidiary in British Columbia.
 "We learned how to deal with adversity in 1992," Green said. "I believe we enter 1993 as a stronger company that will resume the growth we have enjoyed in prior years."
 Based in Kansas City, Mo., UtiliCorp serves more than a million gas and electric customers in eight states and in British Columbia.
 -0- 2/2/93
 /CONTACT: Roger Dick of UtiliCorp, 816-691-3504/
 (UCU)


CO: UtiliCorp United ST: Missouri IN: UTL SU: ERN

AL -- MN012 -- 1902 02/02/93 12:55 EST
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Date:Feb 2, 1993
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