New Jersey Reports Third-Quarter Fiscal 2021 Results

Source: www.gulfoilandgas.com 8/5/2021, Location: North America

New Jersey Resources reported results for the third-quarter of fiscal 2021. Highlights include:
- Consolidated net loss of $(111.8) million, including a $72.7 million after-tax impairment charge related to NJR's investment in the PennEast Project, compared with $(19.3) million in the third quarter of fiscal 2020
- Consolidated net financial loss, a non-GAAP financial measure which excludes the PennEast impairment, of $(14.1) million, or $(0.15) per share, compared with net financial earnings (NFE) of $2.7 million, or $0.03 per share, in the same period last year
- Increased NFE per share (NFEPS) guidance for fiscal 2021 to a range of $2.10 to $2.20
- The Southern Reliability Link (SRL) is expected to be placed in service in August 2021
- On March 30th, New Jersey Natural Gas (NJNG) filed a rate case with the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU), and in July, updated the filing seeking a $163.9 million increase in base rates
- Adelphia Gateway received a Notice to Proceed from FERC for the construction of laterals and interconnects in the South Zone of the project
- Third-quarter fiscal 2021 net loss totaled $(111.8) million, or $(1.16) per share, compared with $(19.3) million, or $(0.20) per share, during the same period in fiscal 2020. Fiscal 2021 year-to-date net income totaled $119.0 million, or $1.24 per share, compared with $130.3 million, or $1.38 per share, for the same period in fiscal 2020.

Third-quarter fiscal 2021 net financial loss totaled $(14.1) million, or $(0.15) per share, compared to NFE of $2.7 million, or $0.03 per share, during the same period in fiscal 2020. Fiscal 2021 year-to-date NFE totaled $201.1 million, or $2.09 per share, compared with $121.9 million, or $1.29 per share, for the same period in fiscal 2020. The difference between GAAP earnings and NFE is due primarily to a $92.0 million impairment charge ($72.7 million after considering the tax effect) related to NJR's investment in the PennEast Project, which is excluded from NFE.

"NJR's performance this fiscal year, led by the impressive results from Energy Services, has allowed us to outperform our expectations and we are increasing our fiscal 2021 NFEPS guidance to a range of $2.10 to $2.20 per share," said Steve Westhoven, President and CEO of New Jersey Resources. "We remain committed to executing on our long-term strategy and delivering value to our shareowners."

Key Performance Metrics
Effective October 1, 2020, NJR changed its method of accounting for Investment Tax Credits (ITCs) from the flow through method to the deferral method. The change is applied retrospectively to all periods presented in our third-quarter fiscal 2021 Form 10-Q (Form 10-Q) that will be filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Our historical financial reporting presented herein has been retrospectively revised to apply this change. For additional details, please refer to our Form 10-Q.

NFE is a financial measure not calculated in accordance with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) of the United States. It is a measure of earnings based on eliminating timing differences surrounding the recognition of certain gains or losses, net of applicable tax adjustments, to effectively match the earnings effects of the economic hedges with the physical sale of natural gas, Solar Renewable Energy Certificates (SRECs) and foreign currency contracts. NFE eliminates the impact of volatility to GAAP earnings associated with unrealized gains and losses on derivative instruments in the current period and excludes the impairment of NJR's investment in the PennEast Project. For further discussion of this financial measure, please see the explanation below under “Non-GAAP Financial Information.”

GAAP requires NJR, during the interim periods, to estimate its annual effective tax rate and use this rate to calculate the year-to-date tax provision. NJR also determines an annual estimated effective tax rate for NFE purposes and calculates a quarterly tax adjustment based on the differences between its forecasted net income and its forecasted NFE for the fiscal year.

Fiscal 2021 NFE Guidance Increase:
NJR increased fiscal 2021 NFE guidance to a range of $2.10 to $2.20, due primarily to better than expected performance by Energy Services and higher BGSS incentives at NJNG. The following chart represents NJR’s current expected contributions from its subsidiaries for fiscal 2021:

In providing fiscal 2021 NFE guidance, management is aware there could be differences between reported GAAP earnings and NFE due to matters such as, but not limited to, the positions of our energy-related derivatives. Management is not able to reasonably estimate the aggregate impact or significance of these items on reported earnings and, therefore, is not able to provide a reconciliation to the corresponding GAAP equivalent for its operating earnings guidance without unreasonable efforts.

New Jersey Natural Gas
NJNG reported third-quarter fiscal 2021 NFE of $1.6 million, compared to NFE of $12.0 million during the same period in fiscal 2020. The decrease in NFE for the quarter was due primarily to higher O&M expenses related to increased bad debt and compensation expense. Fiscal 2021 year-to-date NFE was $131.6 million, compared to NFE of $142.2 million during the same period in fiscal 2020. The year-to-date decrease in NFE was due primarily to higher O&M expenses related to increased compensation, technology and bad debt expense.

Customer Growth:
NJNG added 5,448 new customers during the first nine months of fiscal 2021, compared with 5,879 during the same period in fiscal 2020. The lower customer growth was due primarily to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Base Rate Filing:
On March 30, 2021, NJNG filed a base rate case with the BPU, seeking a $165.7 million increase to its base rates. On July 9, 2021, the Company filed an update to its financial schedules in the base rate filing which reflects a proposed increase of $163.9 million based on an overall return of 7.47 percent with a return on equity of 10.5 percent and a 56.2 percent common equity component.

Infrastructure Update:
The Southern Reliability Link (SRL) will diversify supply to our customers by providing a new intrastate feed into the southern end of NJNG’s distribution system. NJNG completed construction of SRL in July 2021 and it is expected to be placed in service in August 2021.

NJNG's Infrastructure Investment Program (IIP) is a five-year, $150 million program approved by the BPU on October 28, 2020. The IIP consists of a series of infrastructure projects designed to enhance the safety and reliability of NJNG's natural gas distribution system. In the third quarter of fiscal 2021, NJNG began work on various distribution system reinforcement projects. Safety Acceleration and Facilities Enhancement (SAFE) II is a five-year, $158 million program approved by the BPU in September 2016 to replace the remaining unprotected bare steel main and associated services in NJNG’s distribution system. In the first nine months of fiscal 2021, NJNG invested $27.5 million to replace 21 miles of unprotected bare steel main and services, finalizing the authorized investments under the program.

The New Jersey Reinvestment in System Enhancement (NJ RISE) program is a $102.5 million investment program comprised of six projects related to storm hardening and mitigation. During the third quarter of fiscal 2021, construction was completed on the final portion of the North Seaside Reinforcement Project. This concludes the accelerated cost recoveries under the NJ RISE program.

BGSS Incentive Programs:
BGSS incentive programs contributed $3.3 million to utility gross margin in the third quarter of fiscal 2021, compared with $2.4 million during the same period in fiscal 2020. The higher results for the third quarter were due primarily to improved margins in storage incentives compared to the same period last year.

Fiscal 2021 year-to-date, these programs contributed $10.0 million to utility gross margin, compared with $6.7 million during the same period in fiscal 2020. The higher results for fiscal 2021 year-to-date were due primarily to improved margins in off-system sales and storage incentives compared to the same period last year.

Energy-Efficiency Programs:
SAVEGREEN invested $14.5 million during the first nine months of fiscal 2021 to help customers with energy-efficiency upgrades for their homes and businesses. NJNG recovered $10.2 million of its outstanding investments during the first nine months of fiscal 2021.

Clean Energy Ventures (CEV)
CEV reported a net financial loss of $(4.9) million during the third quarter of fiscal 2021, compared with a net financial loss of $(5.7) million during the same period in fiscal 2020. The increase in NFE for the quarter is primarily due to decreased depreciation expense partially offset by increased O&M related to higher leasing expenses.

Fiscal 2021 year-to-date net financial loss was $(24.1) million, compared with a net financial loss of $(22.7) million during the same period in fiscal 2020. The year-to-date decrease in NFE was due primarily to higher O&M related to increased project maintenance, leasing and information technology expenses, partially offset by decreased depreciation expense.

Storage and Transportation
Storage and Transportation, formerly known as our Midstream reporting segment, reported third-quarter fiscal 2021 NFE of $2.4 million, compared with NFE of $3.6 million during the same period in fiscal 2020. The decrease in NFE for the quarter is primarily due to increased interest expense related to the acquisitions of Adelphia Gateway and Leaf River. Fiscal 2021 year-to-date NFE was $10.6 million, compared with NFE of $10.9 million during the same period in fiscal 2020.

The NFE results for the three and nine months periods of fiscal 2021 exclude a $72.7 million after-tax impairment charge related to NJR's investment in the PennEast Project.

Infrastructure Updates:
- Adelphia Gateway - During the third quarter of fiscal 2021, Adelphia Gateway received a FERC Notice to Proceed for the second phase of construction on the South Zone. The second phase includes construction of laterals and interconnects. Leaf River - During the third quarter of fiscal 2021, Leaf River entered into new and extended existing contracts with creditworthy counterparties, further enhancing the stable, fee-based revenue profile of the asset.
- PennEast - On June 29, 2021, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the September 10, 2019 Third Circuit decision vacating the New Jersey Federal District Court's December 13, 2018 condemnation order. Despite the favorable outcome, PennEast continues to see regulatory and legal challenges that result in the continued delay of construction and commercial operation. As a result, the impairment of NJR's investment is due to management's estimates and assumptions regarding the timing uncertainty of regulatory and legal matters, construction and in-service dates, and NJR's evaluation of the environmental and political climate as it relates to interstate pipeline development.

Energy Services
Energy Services reported third-quarter fiscal 2021 net financial loss of $(12.5) million, compared with a net financial loss of $(5.9) million for the same period last fiscal year. The decrease in NFE for the quarter was due primarily to the timing of settlement of certain transportation and storage options. Fiscal 2021 year-to-date NFE was $85.5 million, compared with a net financial loss of $(9.3) million during the same period in fiscal 2020. The year-to-date increase was due primarily to higher natural gas price volatility in February 2021, as a result of cold weather in regions where Energy Services had contracted rights to storage assets.

Home Services and Other Operations
Home Services and Other Operations reported third-quarter fiscal 2021 net financial loss of $(0.4) million compared with a net financial loss of $(0.6) million for the same period in fiscal 2020. Fiscal 2021 year-to-date NFE was $0.3 million, compared with NFE of $0.7 million during the same period in fiscal 2020.

Capital Expenditures and Cash Flows:

NJR is committed to maintaining a strong financial profile.
- During the first nine months of fiscal 2021, capital expenditures spent and accrued were $463.5 million, of which $349.4 million were related to NJNG, compared with $536.8 million, of which $241.9 million were related to NJNG, during the same period in fiscal 2020. Fiscal 2020 capital expenditures include the $167.5 million acquisition cost of Adelphia Gateway.
- During the first nine months of fiscal 2021, cash flows from operations were $341.8 million, compared with $182.8 million during the same period of fiscal 2020. The increase was due primarily to increased NFE at Energy Services.


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