BGE notes mild weather in posting lower earnings for quarter, half

July 22, 1995|By Kevin L. McQuaid | Kevin L. McQuaid,Sun Staff Writer

The Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. reported yesterday that earnings dropped more than 20 percent in both the second quarter and first half of 1995, the result of decreased gas and electric sales caused by mild weather.

In the second quarter, BGE had earnings of $40.9 million, a 28 percent decline from the comparable period in 1994, when the utility generated $56.68 million in income.

For the first six months of this year, BGE earned $101.8 million, a 21 percent decrease from $128.8 million in the year-earlier half.

On a per-share basis, BGE earned 25 cents in the quarter, vs. 38 cents per share a year ago. The 69 cents in earnings per share for the six-month period was also well below the 88 cents per share earned a year ago.

Revenues also fell slightly in both reporting periods. In the quarter, revenues dropped 1.3 percent to $642.5 million, while revenues for the year's first half declined 4.1 percent, to $1.36 billion.

The company cited an unusual cold spell in January 1994 as well as record heat in June of that year as primary reasons for the higher earnings then.

"The negative impact of the mild weather on earnings was partially offset by BGE's success in reducing operating and capital costs, and by increased gas sales to industrial customers," Edward A. Crooke, BGE's president and chief operating officer, said in a statement.

BGE thus far in 1995 has reduced its operating costs by $20 million, to $358 million, and is projected to slice $100 million off its capital budget.

BGE's biggest hit has come from residential customers, who used 7.5 percent less electricity and 11.2 percent less gas in the first half of 1995.

"Utilities can live or die by the climate," said Michael Worms, a CS First Boston analyst who follows BGE. "And a lot of East Coast utilities are showing poor comparables in their earnings due to the weather."

Despite the lower earnings, BGE's performance did produce some bright spots.

Bethlehem Steel Corp., BGE's largest industrial customer, helped push commercial and industrial sales of natural gas up 5.2 percent from January to June 30.

Earnings from BGE's diversified energy, real estate and investment businesses also rose, thanks to gains in various energy projects and investment returns.

For the quarter, Constellation Holdings Inc.'s earnings were just over $4 million, contributing 3 cents per share to the overall company's income. Through the first half, Constellation generated net income of $8.2 million, or 6 cents per share.

BGE also announced a quarterly dividend of 39 cents per share on its common stock.

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