Piedmont Natural Gas reported a 6 percent rise in net income for the year that ended Oct. 31 despite the warmest winter in 35 years, which slowed demand for gas-fired heating.
The Charlotte-based company reported yearly earnings of $119.8 million on $1.1 billion in revenues, a 22 percent decrease from the previous year. Diluted earnings per share of $1.66 compared to $1.57 last year.
Piedmont CEO Thomas Skains credited his companys excellent year to the addition of 13,000 new customers, up 26 percent from the previous year, and operating efficiencies.
The exploitation of untapped U.S. gas reserves through the drilling practice of fracking helped drop Piedmonts cost of gas by 36 percent this year.
The lower prices benefit customers: Piedmont is required to pass through gas costs to customers without a profit.
They also further motivated electric utilities including Duke Energy to turn to gas-fired power plants. Gas volume Piedmont delivered to power plants jumped 82 percent in 2012.
Piedmont went on the largest capital spending spree in its history, investing $550 million on new pipelines and other infrastructure to reach power plants and other new customers.
The company reaffirmed its 2013 earnings guidance of $1.67 to $1.77 per diluted share.