LAS VEGAS, Feb. 10 /PRNewswire/ -- Southwest Gas Corporation
(NYSE: SWX) announced consolidated 1997 earnings of $0.61 per share, a $0.36
increase compared to the $0.25 per share recorded during 1996. Consolidated
net income applicable to common stock for 1997 was $16.5 million versus $6.6
million in 1996.
Gas operations contributed $15.8 million of consolidated net income in
1997 compared to $3.9 million in 1996. According to Michael O. Maffie,
President and Chief Executive Officer, 1997 results for the gas operations
segment reflected fundamental improvements in operating margin coupled with
more favorable weather conditions.
Operating margin increased $47 million, or 13 percent, in 1997 due to rate
relief, customer growth, and the return to more normal winter-season
temperatures following consecutive years of record-setting warm weather. Rate
relief in Nevada and Arizona accounted for approximately $20 million of the
operating margin increase. Colder-than-normal weather during the fourth
quarter of 1997 partially offset the effects of first quarter warmer-than-
normal temperatures and, overall, weather-related factors resulted in
$19 million of additional operating margin. During 1997, the Company added
59,000 customers, a five percent increase, contributing $8 million towards the
change in operating margin. This marks the fourth consecutive year in which
the customer growth rate has been at least five percent.
Operating expenses and net financing costs increased $19.9 million, or six
percent, due to new investment in gas plant and higher costs incurred as a
result of providing service to the Company's continually growing customer
base. During 1997, the Company invested $164 million in new gas plant.
During the fourth quarter of 1997, the Company recognized an $8 million
nonrecurring pretax charge resulting from cost overruns experienced during
expansion of the northern California service territory. The writeoff was part
of a January 1998 settlement agreement negotiated between the Company and the
California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) Office of Ratepayer Advocates.
This agreement must be approved by the CPUC to become effective. Management
expects approval of the settlement in the first quarter of 1998. The net
effect of this charge was a $4.3 million, or $0.16 per share, after-tax
reduction to earnings.
During the fourth quarter of 1997, consolidated net income applicable to
common stock was $23.3 million, or $0.85 per share, compared to $18.3 million,
or $0.69 per share, during the same quarter in 1996. These results include
the net impact of the nonrecurring charge. Operating margin improved
$19 million from the prior period as a result of rate relief, continued
customer growth, and colder temperatures. Increased operating expenses,
incurred as a result of servicing additional customers, partially offset the
growth in margin.
Southwest Gas Corporation provides natural gas to approximately
1,151,000 customers in Arizona, Nevada and California. Its service territory
is centered in the fastest-growing region of the country.
SOUTHWEST GAS CONSOLIDATED EARNINGS DIGEST
YEAR ENDED DECEMBER 31, 1997 1996
Revenues $ 732,010,000 $ 644,061,000
Net Income Applicable
to Common Stock $ 16,469,000 $ 6,574,000
Average Number of
Common Shares Outstanding 27,069,000 25,888,000
Earnings Per Share of
Common Stock $ 0.61 $ 0.25
QUARTER ENDED DECEMBER 31, 1997 1996
Revenues $ 231,143,000 $ 206,843,000
Net Income Applicable to
Common Stock $ 23,335,000 $ 18,296,000
Average Number of Common
Shares Outstanding 27,303,000 26,640,000
Earnings Per Share of
Common Stock $ 0.85 $ 0.69
SOURCE Southwest Gas Corporation
CONTACT: Media: Dante Pistone, 702-876-7253, or Shareholders: Laura Hobbs, 702-876-7237, both of Southwest Gas Corporation
CNOC: http: //www.prnewswire.com or fax, 800-758-5804, ext. 804969