Piedmont Natural Gas earnings drop in 2nd quarter

The entrance to the Piedmont Natural Gas headquarters in Charlotte.
The entrance to the Piedmont Natural Gas headquarters in Charlotte.

Piedmont Natural Gas reported slightly lower second-quarter earnings Wednesday as the Charlotte-based company prepares for its acquisition by Duke Energy.

The company reported profits of $63.4 million, or 78 cents a share, for the quarter that ended April 30. That’s a 4 percent drop compared to the $66.4 million or 84 cents a share for the same period in 2015.

Not counting merger-related costs, Piedmont earned $64.1 million or 79 cents a share.

Warmer weather that hurt sales during the quarter were partly offset by increases in rates related to pipeline safety programs and by a growing customer base, Piedmont said.

Piedmont lowered its earnings forecast for 2016 from $1.92 to $2.02 per diluted share before merger expenses to $1.90 to $1.95 per share.

The change is related to expected lower earnings from its investment in the Constitution Pipeline, for which New York state environmental officials have denied a needed water-quality permit. The pipeline would ship natural gas from Pennsylvania to markets in the Northeast.

The N.C. Utilities Commission is scheduled to begin hearing testimony on Duke’s $4.9 billion acquisition of Piedmont on July 18. The companies hope to close the deal by the end of this year.

Bruce Henderson: 704-358-5051, @bhender