WALL, N.J. – New Jersey Resources (NYSE: NJR) today announced first-quarter earnings for fiscal 2007 of $28.1 million, or $1.01 per basic share, versus $34.3 million, or $1.24 per basic share, last year. On a diluted basis, earnings per share were $1.01 versus $1.23 last year. Based on the company's performance to date and its view of market conditions, and subject to factors discussed below, NJR is increasing earnings guidance for fiscal 2007 by $.05 to a range of $2.90 to $3.00 per basic share.
"We currently expect higher earnings at NJR for the 16th consecutive year, which we believe is the longest streak among natural gas and electric utilities in the U.S.," said Laurence M. Downes, chairman and CEO of NJR.
New Jersey Natural Gas (NJNG), NJR's largest subsidiary, saw first-quarter earnings rise 6.6 percent over last year due primarily to the impact of the recently approved Conservation Incentive Program (CIP). The CIP is designed to protect NJNG's gross margin, while helping customers to reduce their energy usage through targeted education efforts and energy efficiency programs. Reducing customer usage will also increase opportunities for NJNG to lower gas costs further.
"Our Conservation Incentive Program has performed as intended, and has resulted in lower gas costs for customers and improved financial results for our shareowners. This innovative program is another example of working in partnership with our regulators to help all our stakeholders," Downes said.
Moderating wholesale natural gas prices also allowed NJNG to lower its Basic Gas Supply Service (BGSS) charge and provide a customer refund totaling $51.5 million to residential and small commercial customers in their December 2006 bills.
"We were pleased to provide a refund to our customers, especially as we approached the winter heating season, when usage is typically highest," Downes said. "As always, we are constantly monitoring the natural gas market to identify ways we can provide additional savings."
Financial and operating highlights during the first quarter included:
Fiscal 2007 Earnings Guidance
Assuming the continued impact of the CIP, stable economic conditions, continued customer growth at NJNG, continued volatility in the wholesale natural gas markets at NJRES and subject to the factors discussed below under "Forward-Looking Statements," NJR is increasing its earnings estimate by $.05 for fiscal 2007 to $2.90 to $3.00 per basic share.
This news release contains estimates, earnings guidance and other forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. NJR cautions that the assumptions that form the basis for forward-looking statements regarding customer growth, customer usage, financial condition, results of operations, cash flows, capital requirements, market risk and other matters include many factors that are beyond NJR's ability to control or estimate precisely, such as estimates of future market conditions, the behavior of other market participants and changes in the debt and equity capital markets. The factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from NJR's expectations include, but are not limited to weather and economic conditions; demographic changes in the NJNG service territory; the rate of NJNG customer growth; volatility of natural gas commodity prices and its impact on customer usage, NJRES' operations and on NJR's risk management efforts; changes in rating agency requirements and/or credit ratings and their effect on availability and cost of capital to NJR; commercial and wholesale credit risks, including creditworthiness of customers and counterparties; the impact of governmental regulation (including the regulation of rates); fluctuations in energy-related commodity prices; conversion activity and other marketing efforts; actual energy usage of NJNG's customers; the pace of deregulation of retail gas markets; access to adequate supplies of natural gas; the regulatory and pricing policies of federal and state regulatory agencies; changes due to legislation at the federal and state level; the availability of an adequate number of appropriate counterparties in the wholesale energy trading market; sufficient liquidity in the wholesale energy trading market and continued access to the capital markets; the disallowance of recovery of environmental-related expenditures and other regulatory changes; environmental-related and other litigation and other uncertainties; the effects and impacts of inflation on NJR and its subsidiaries operations; change in accounting pronouncements issued by the appropriate standard setting bodies; and terrorist attacks or threatened attacks on energy facilities or unrelated energy companies.
More detailed information about these factors is set forth in NJR's filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including NJR's Annual Report on Form 10-K filed on November 22, 2006 and Quarterly Report filed on Form 10-Q to be filed on, or about, February 7, 2007. NJR's Forms 10-K and 10-Q are available at www.sec.gov. NJR does not, by including this paragraph, assume any obligation to review or revise any particular forward-looking statement referenced herein in light of future events.
NJR will host a live webcast to discuss its financial results today at 2 p.m. ET. A few minutes prior to the webcast, go to njliving.com and select "New Jersey Resources" from the top navigation bar. Choose "Investor Relations," then click just below the microphone under the heading "Latest Webcast" on the Investor Relations home page.
About New Jersey Resources
New Jersey Resources (NYSE:NJR), a Fortune 1000 company and a member of the Forbes Platinum 400, provides reliable retail and wholesale energy services to customers in New Jersey and in states from the Gulf Coast to New England, and Canada. Its principal subsidiary, New Jersey Natural Gas, is one of the fastest-growing local distribution companies in the United States, serving more than 474,000 customers in central and northern New Jersey. Other major NJR subsidiaries include NJR Energy Services and NJR Home Services. NJR Energy Services is a leader in the unregulated energy services market, providing customer service and management of natural gas storage and capacity assets. NJR Home Services offers retail customers heating, air conditioning and appliance services. NJR's progress is a tribute to the more than 5,000 dedicated employees who have shared their expertise and focus on quality through more than 50 years of serving customers and the community to make NJR a leader in the competitive energy marketplace. For more information, visit NJR's Web site at njliving.com.