National Fuel Reports Second Quarter Earnings
WILLIAMSVILLE, N.Y., April 30, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — National Fuel Gas Company (“National Fuel” or the “Company”) (NYSE:NFG) today announced consolidated results for the second quarter of its 2020 fiscal year and for the six months ended March 31, 2020.FISCAL 2020 SECOND QUARTER SUMMARY
GAAP net loss of $106.1 million, or $1.23 per share, compared to GAAP net income of $90.6 million, or $1.04 per share, in the prior year, which includes a $129.3 million after-tax impairment of oil and gas properties and a $56.8 million deferred tax valuation allowance described in further detail in this releaseAdjusted operating results of $84.2 million, or $0.97 per share, compared to $92.9 million, or $1.07 per share, in the prior year (see non-GAAP reconciliation on page 2)Adjusted EBITDA of $231.1 million, an increase of $5.3 million from $225.8 million in the prior year (non-GAAP reconciliation on page 24)E&P segment net production of 59.8 Bcfe, an increase of 11 Bcfe, or 23% from the prior year, including the impact of approximately 2.7 Bcf of curtailments due to sustained low natural gas prices in AppalachiaAverage natural gas prices, after the impact of hedging, of $2.12 per Mcf, down $0.46 per Mcf from the prior yearAverage oil prices, after the impact of hedging, of $58.23 per Bbl, down $2.78 per Bbl from the prior yearGathering revenues of $35.3 million, an increase of $5.9 million, or 20%, on higher throughput from the E&P segmentPipeline & Storage revenues of $79.2 million, an increase of $6.9 million, or 10%, from the prior year, largely driven by the successful resolution of a National Fuel Gas Supply Corporation rate proceedingReducing fiscal 2020 consolidated capital expenditure guidance to a range of $680 to $740 million, a decrease of $30 million from the midpoint of the Company’s previous guidance rangeMANAGEMENT COMMENTS ON COMPANY’S COVID-19 RESPONSEDavid P. Bauer, President and Chief Executive Officer of National Fuel Gas Company, stated: “As we confront the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, I am proud to say that National Fuel has continued to safely and reliably provide natural gas service to our over 743,000 utility customers in western New York and northwestern Pennsylvania, operate our extensive network of transportation, compression and gathering infrastructure, and produce essential natural gas supplies.The continuity of our operations is a direct result of the dedication and hard work of our over 2,000 employees. During this unprecedented situation, National Fuel has remained committed to our workforce – the bedrock of our Company – and has not instituted any furloughs or workforce reductions. With a large portion of our employees now working remotely, we have implemented a number of initiatives to provide the flexibility needed to address this new normal, including additional paid time off to address child care needs, and encouraging the use of alternative work schedules.With respect to our in-field workforce and customer service representatives, all of whom provide essential services to our communities each and every day, we have adopted appropriate social distancing measures and have provided necessary personal protective equipment in line with directives from federal, state, and local agencies. As this public health crisis evolves, the health and well-being of our employees and our communities will remain our number one priority, and National Fuel will continue to monitor developments affecting our stakeholders in order to take appropriate steps to mitigate the impacts of the COVID-19 virus.”RECONCILIATION OF GAAP EARNINGS TO ADJUSTED OPERATING RESULTSMANAGEMENT COMMENTS ON SECOND QUARTER RESULTSMr. Bauer added: “Low commodity prices continued to serve as a headwind during the quarter, weighing on our results and requiring the Company to write down the value of its oil and gas reserves in our Exploration and Production segment. Operationally, however, our results were in line with our expectations, driven by the strong performance of our Pipeline and Storage and Gathering businesses, both of which saw significant earnings growth. In these uncertain times, our diversified business model continues to function as designed, providing National Fuel with stability through a consistent, predictable base of cash flows and a strong balance sheet.”FISCAL 2020 GUIDANCE AND BUSINESS UPDATENational Fuel is revising its fiscal 2020 earnings guidance to reflect revised commodity price assumptions for the balance of the fiscal year, and the results of the fiscal second quarter. The Company is now projecting that earnings, excluding items impacting comparability, will be within the range of $2.75 to $2.95 per share, or $2.85 per share at the midpoint of the range.The Company is assuming that NYMEX natural gas prices will average $2.05 per MMBtu for the remainder of fiscal 2020, unchanged from the previous guidance, while also lowering its Appalachian spot price forecast to $1.65 per MMBtu. Additionally, the Company is now assuming that WTI oil prices will average $22.50 per barrel (Bbl) for the remainder of fiscal 2020, a decrease of $32.50 per Bbl from the $55.00 assumed in the previous guidance. These price assumptions are intended to reflect the current NYMEX forward markets for natural gas and oil and consider the impact of local sales point differentials.The Exploration and Production segment is lowering its fiscal 2020 net production guidance to a range of 230 to 240 Bcfe, which reflects the impacts of curtailments during the second quarter and estimated curtailments for the month of April. During the second quarter, Seneca executed approximately 12.6 Bcf of new NYMEX swap contracts and fixed price physical firm sales for fiscal 2020. The Company currently has financial hedges and fixed price physical firm sales contracts in place on approximately 72% of Seneca’s remaining expected fiscal 2020 natural gas production that, on average, lock-in a price realization after the cost of transportation of $2.16 per Mcf.In addition, the Company is lowering its consolidated capital expenditure guidance to a range of $680 to $740 million, a $30 million decrease from the midpoint of the Company’s prior guidance range. The Company’s other guidance assumptions remain largely unchanged from the previous guidance.Additional details on the Company’s updated forecast assumptions and business segment guidance for fiscal 2020 are outlined in the table on page 8.DISCUSSION OF SECOND QUARTER RESULTS BY SEGMENTThe following earnings discussion of each operating segment for the quarter ended March 31, 2020 is summarized in a tabular form on pages 9 and 10 of this report (earnings drivers for the six months ended March 31, 2020 are summarized on pages 11 and 12). It may be helpful to refer to those tables while reviewing this discussion. As of the quarter ended September 30, 2019, the Company is no longer reporting the Energy Marketing operations as a reportable segment. The Energy Marketing operations have been included in the All Other category in the disclosures and tables that follow below. Prior year segment information has been restated to reflect this change in presentation.Note that management defines Adjusted Operating Results as reported GAAP earnings adjusted for items impacting comparability, and Adjusted EBITDA as reported GAAP earnings before the following items: interest expense, income taxes, depreciation, depletion and amortization, other income and deductions, impairments, and other items reflected in operating income that impact comparability.Upstream BusinessExploration and Production SegmentThe Exploration and Production segment operations are carried out by Seneca Resources Company, LLC (“Seneca”). Seneca explores for, develops and produces natural gas and oil reserves, primarily in Pennsylvania and California.Seneca’s second quarter GAAP earnings decreased $197.1 million versus the prior year, which includes the impact of a non-cash, pre-tax impairment of Seneca’s oil and natural gas reserves, and the recognition of a valuation allowance that reduced the deferred tax asset related to certain state-level net operating loss and credit carryforwards that may not be realized.During the second quarter, Seneca recorded a non-cash, pre-tax impairment charge of $177.8 million ($129.3 million after-tax) to write-down the value of Seneca’s oil and natural gas reserves under the full cost method of accounting. The full cost method of accounting requires that Seneca perform a quarterly “ceiling test” to compare the present value of future revenues from its oil and natural gas reserves based on an unweighted arithmetic average of the first day of the month oil and gas prices for each month within the 12-month period prior to the end of the reporting period (“the ceiling”) with the book value of those reserves at the balance sheet date. If the book value of the reserves exceeds the ceiling, a non-cash impairment charge must be recorded in order to reduce the book value of the reserves to the calculated ceiling. It is anticipated that the current low commodity price environment will lead to impairments during the remainder of fiscal 2020 and likely in the first quarter of fiscal 2021 as well.During the quarter ended March 31, 2020, the Company recorded a full valuation allowance in the amount of $60.5 million against certain state deferred tax assets based on its conclusion, considering all available evidence (both positive and negative), that it was more likely than not that these deferred tax assets would not be realized. A significant item of objective negative evidence considered was a projected three-year cumulative pre-tax loss primarily due to the non-cash impairments of Seneca’s oil and gas reserves noted above. Changes in judgment regarding future realization of these deferred tax assets may result in a reversal of all or a portion of the valuation allowance.Excluding these items noted above, as well as the net impact of non-cash mark-to-market adjustments recorded in the prior year relating to hedge ineffectiveness (see table above), Seneca’s second quarter earnings decreased $12.8 million as the positive impact of higher production was more than offset by the negative impacts of lower realized natural gas and crude oil prices, higher operating expenses, higher interest expense, and a higher effective tax rate.Seneca produced 59.8 Bcfe during the second quarter, an increase of 11.0 Bcfe, or 23%, from the prior year. Natural gas production increased 10.7 Bcf, or 24%, due primarily to production from new Marcellus and Utica wells completed and connected to sales in Appalachia. Net production increased 5.4 Bcf to 26.6 Bcf in Seneca’s Western Development Area and 5.4 Bcf to 29.0 Bcf in the Eastern Development Area. Seneca curtailed an estimated 2.7 Bcf of net natural gas production during the second quarter due to lower spot pricing at local sales points in Pennsylvania. Oil production for the second quarter increased 42,000 Bbls from the prior year as new production continues to come on-line from Seneca’s development of the Pioneer and 17N assets in the Midway Sunset area of California, as well as the Coalinga assets.Seneca’s average realized natural gas price, after the impact of hedging and transportation costs, was $2.12 per Mcf, a decrease of $0.46 per Mcf from the prior year. This decline was largely due to lower NYMEX prices and lower spot pricing at local sales points in Pennsylvania. Seneca’s average realized oil price, after the impact of hedging, was $58.23 per Bbl, a decrease of $2.78 per Bbl compared to the prior year. The decline in oil price realizations was due primarily to lower market prices for crude oil during the quarter and reduced price differentials at local sales points in California.The increase in Seneca’s operating expenses was largely due to higher production during the quarter. Lease operating and transportation (“LOE”) expense, which increased $5.8 million, includes the fees paid to the Company’s Gathering segment for gathering and compression services used to connect Seneca’s Marcellus and Utica production to sales points along interstate pipelines. In addition to higher production, the $9.2 million increase in depreciation, depletion and amortization (“DD&A”) expense was also due to a higher DD&A rate. Seneca’s general and administrative (“G&A”) costs were relatively flat despite the increased production. On a unit of production basis, G&A expenses during the quarter decreased $0.06 per Mcfe to $0.29 per Mcfe.The increase in Seneca’s effective tax rate, excluding the impact of the valuation allowance recorded at March 31, 2020 discussed above, was largely driven by the prior year impact of the Enhanced Oil Recovery tax credit, which was not available in the current year.Midstream BusinessesPipeline and Storage SegmentThe Pipeline and Storage segment’s operations are carried out by National Fuel Gas Supply Corporation (“Supply Corporation”) and Empire Pipeline, Inc. (“Empire”). The Pipeline and Storage segment provides natural gas transportation and storage services to affiliated and non-affiliated companies through an integrated system of pipelines and underground natural gas storage fields in western New York and Pennsylvania.The Pipeline and Storage segment’s second quarter GAAP earnings increased $4.3 million versus the prior year primarily driven by higher operating revenues and lower operation and maintenance (“O&M”) expenses, partially offset by higher DD&A expense. The increase in operating revenues of $6.9 million, or 10%, was largely due to an increase in Supply Corporation’s transportation and storage rates effective February 1, 2020, in accordance with Supply Corporation’s rate case settlement in principle coupled with new demand charges for transportation service from Supply Corporation’s Line N to Monaca expansion project, which was placed in service on November 1, 2019. O&M expense decreased $0.9 million primarily due to lower compressor and facility maintenance costs, partially offset by an increase in pipeline integrity costs. The increase in DD&A expense of $2.1 million was primarily attributable to an increase in Supply Corporation’s depreciation rates associated with its rate case settlement in principle.Gathering SegmentThe Gathering segment’s operations are carried out by National Fuel Gas Midstream Company, LLC’s limited liability companies. The Gathering segment constructs, owns and operates natural gas gathering pipelines and compression facilities in the Appalachian region, which currently deliver Seneca’s gross Appalachian production to the interstate pipeline system.The Gathering segment’s second quarter GAAP earnings increased $7.2 million versus the prior year. Earnings were positively impacted by $3.8 million as a result of the Gathering segment’s recognition of an income tax benefit that was recorded as an offset to the valuation allowance described above in the Exploration and Production segment. This offset is a result of the Gathering and Exploration and Production segments’ subsidiaries filing a combined state tax return. Taxable income generated in the Gathering segment is used to offset taxable losses in the Exploration and Production segment, which provided the opportunity to reduce the valuation allowance recorded in the Exploration and Production segment. Excluding this item, the Gathering segment’s earnings increased $3.4 million. The increase was primarily driven by higher operating revenues, which were partially offset by higher O&M expense and a modest increase in DD&A expense. Operating revenues increased $5.9 million, or 20%, primarily due to an 11.0 Bcf increase in gathered volumes from Seneca’s Appalachian natural gas production. The $1.0 million increase in O&M expense was due to an increase in compressor station operating and preventative maintenance activity during the current quarter. The $0.6 million increase in DD&A expense was due primarily to a higher average total value of plant assets in service versus the prior year.Downstream BusinessesUtility SegmentThe Utility segment operations are carried out by National Fuel Gas Distribution Corporation (“Distribution”), which sells or transports natural gas to customers located in western New York and northwestern Pennsylvania.The Utility segment’s second quarter GAAP earnings decreased $4.1 million over the prior year primarily driven by a decline in customer margin (operating revenues less purchased gas sold) and higher O&M expense. The $1.5 million decrease in customer margin was due primarily to warmer weather in Distribution’s Pennsylvania service territory, partially offset by higher revenues earned through the Company’s system modernization tracking mechanism and the positive impact of adjustments related to regulatory rate and cost recovery mechanisms subject to annual reconciliation. Weather in Distribution’s Pennsylvania service territory was 17.5% warmer on average than last year, resulting in a decrease in residential and transportation customer throughput and revenues. The impact of weather variations on earnings in Distribution’s New York service territory is largely mitigated by that jurisdiction’s weather normalization clause. The $3.3 million increase in O&M expense was primarily attributable to higher personnel costs as well as a higher accrual for bad debt expense given the economic backdrop in the Company’s service territory.Corporate and All OtherThe Company’s operations that are included in Corporate and All Other, which now include the Company’s energy marketing business, generated a combined loss of $4.3 million in the current year second quarter, which was a $7.0 million decrease from the combined earnings of $2.7 million generated in the prior-year second quarter. The decrease in earnings was driven primarily by higher unrealized losses on investment securities in the current quarter compared to unrealized gains on investment securities in the prior year second quarter.EARNINGS TELECONFERENCEThe Company will host a conference call on Friday, May 1, 2020, at 8:30 a.m. Eastern Time to discuss this announcement. There are two ways to access this call. For those with Internet access, visit the NFG Investor Relations News & Events page at National Fuel’s website at investor.nationalfuelgas.com. For those without Internet access, audio access is also provided by dialing (toll-free) 833-287-0795, using conference ID number “9349819”. For those unable to listen to the live conference call, an audio replay will be available approximately two hours following the teleconference at the same website link and by phone at (toll-free) 800-585-8367 using conference ID number “9349819”. Both the webcast and a telephonic replay will be available until the close of business on Friday, May 8, 2020.National Fuel is an integrated energy company reporting financial results for four operating segments: Exploration and Production, Pipeline and Storage, Gathering, and Utility. Additional information about National Fuel is available at www.nationalfuelgas.com.Certain statements contained herein, including statements identified by the use of the words “anticipates,” “estimates,” “expects,” “forecasts,” “intends,” “plans,” “predicts,” “projects,” “believes,” “seeks,” “will,” “may” and similar expressions, and statements which are other than statements of historical facts, are “forward-looking statements” as defined by the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Forward-looking statements involve risks and uncertainties, which could cause actual results or outcomes to differ materially from those expressed in the forward-looking statements. The Company’s expectations, beliefs and projections contained herein are expressed in good faith and are believed to have a reasonable basis, but there can be no assurance that such expectations, beliefs or projections will result or be achieved or accomplished. In addition to other factors, the following are important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those discussed in the forward-looking statements: impairments under the SEC’s full cost ceiling test for natural gas and oil reserves; changes in the price of natural gas or oil; financial and economic conditions, including the availability of credit, and occurrences affecting the Company’s ability to obtain financing on acceptable terms for working capital, capital expenditures and other investments, including any downgrades in the Company’s credit ratings and changes in interest rates and other capital market conditions; the length and severity of the recent COVID-19 pandemic, including its impacts across our businesses on demand, operations, global supply chains and liquidity; changes in economic conditions, including global, national or regional recessions, and their effect on the demand for, and customers’ ability to pay for, the Company’s products and services; the creditworthiness or performance of the Company’s key suppliers, customers and counterparties; changes in laws, regulations or judicial interpretations to which the Company is subject, including those involving derivatives, taxes, safety, employment, climate change, other environmental matters, real property, and exploration and production activities such as hydraulic fracturing; delays or changes in costs or plans with respect to Company projects or related projects of other companies, including disruptions due to COVID-19, as well as difficulties or delays in obtaining necessary governmental approvals, permits or orders or in obtaining the cooperation of interconnecting facility operators; governmental/regulatory actions, initiatives and proceedings, including those involving rate cases (which address, among other things, target rates of return, rate design and retained natural gas), environmental/safety requirements, affiliate relationships, industry structure, and franchise renewal; changes in price differentials between similar quantities of natural gas or oil sold at different geographic locations, and the effect of such changes on commodity production, revenues and demand for pipeline transportation capacity to or from such locations; the impact of information technology disruptions, cybersecurity or data security breaches; factors affecting the Company’s ability to successfully identify, drill for and produce economically viable natural gas and oil reserves, including among others geology, lease availability, title disputes, weather conditions, shortages, delays or unavailability of equipment and services required in drilling operations, insufficient gathering, processing and transportation capacity, the need to obtain governmental approvals and permits, and compliance with environmental laws and regulations; increasing health care costs and the resulting effect on health insurance premiums and on the obligation to provide other post-retirement benefits; other changes in price differentials between similar quantities of natural gas or oil having different quality, heating value, hydrocarbon mix or delivery date; the cost and effects of legal and administrative claims against the Company or activist shareholder campaigns to effect changes at the Company; uncertainty of oil and gas reserve estimates; significant differences between the Company’s projected and actual production levels for natural gas or oil; changes in demographic patterns and weather conditions; changes in the availability, price or accounting treatment of derivative financial instruments; changes in laws, actuarial assumptions, the interest rate environment and the return on plan/trust assets related to the Company’s pension and other post-retirement benefits, which can affect future funding obligations and costs and plan liabilities; economic disruptions or uninsured losses resulting from major accidents, fires, severe weather, natural disasters, terrorist activities or acts of war; significant differences between the Company’s projected and actual capital expenditures and operating expenses; or increasing costs of insurance, changes in coverage and the ability to obtain insurance. The Company disclaims any obligation to update any forward-looking statements to reflect events or circumstances after the date thereof.NATIONAL FUEL GAS COMPANY
AND SUBSIDIARIESGUIDANCE SUMMARYAs discussed on page 2, the Company is revising its earnings guidance for fiscal 2020. Additional details on the Company’s forecast assumptions and business segment guidance are outlined in the table below.While the Company expects to incur additional ceiling test impairment charges in the remaining quarters of fiscal 2020 and likely in the first quarter of fiscal 2021 as well, the amount of these charges is not reasonably determinable at this time. The amount of any ceiling test charge is determined at the end of the applicable quarter and will depend on many factors, including additions to or subtractions from proved reserves, fluctuations in oil and gas prices, and income tax effects related to the differences between the book and tax basis of the Company’s oil and gas properties. Some or all of these factors are likely to be significant. Because the expected ceiling test impairment charges and other potential items impacting comparability are not reasonably determinable at this time, the Company is unable to provide earnings guidance other than on a non-GAAP basis that excludes these items.
(1) Capital expenditures for the quarter and six months ended March 31, 2020, include accounts payable and accrued liabilities related to capital expenditures of $41.2 million, $9.7 million, $4.4 million, and $4.2 million in the Exploration and Production segment, Pipeline and Storage segment, Gathering segment and Utility segment, respectively. These amounts have been excluded from the Consolidated Statement of Cash Flows at March 31, 2020, since they represent non-cash investing activities at that date.(2) Capital expenditures for the six months ended March 31, 2020, exclude capital expenditures of $38.0 million, $23.8 million, $6.6 million and $12.7 million in the Exploration and Production segment, Pipeline and Storage segment, Gathering segment and Utility segment, respectively. These amounts were in accounts payable and accrued liabilities at September 30, 2019 and paid during the six months ended March 31, 2020. These amounts were excluded from the Consolidated Statement of Cash Flows at September 30, 2019, since they represented non-cash investing activities at that date. These amounts have been included in the Consolidated Statement of Cash Flows at March 31, 2020.(3) Capital expenditures for the quarter and six months ended March 31, 2019, include accounts payable and accrued liabilities related to capital expenditures of $53.4 million, $10.7 million, $7.4 million, and $3.4 million in the Exploration and Production segment, Pipeline and Storage segment, Gathering segment and Utility segment, respectively. These amounts have been excluded from the Consolidated Statement of Cash Flows at March 31, 2019, since they represent non-cash investing activities at that date.(4) Capital expenditures for the six months ended March 31, 2019, exclude capital expenditures of $51.3 million, $21.9 million, $6.1 million and $9.5 million in the Exploration and Production segment, Pipeline and Storage segment, Gathering segment and Utility segment, respectively. These amounts were in accounts payable and accrued liabilities at September 30, 2018 and paid during the six months ended March 31, 2019. These amounts were excluded from the Consolidated Statement of Cash Flows at September 30, 2018, since they represented non-cash investing activities at that date. These amounts have been included in the Consolidated Statement of Cash Flows at March 31, 2019.(1) Percents compare actual 2020 degree days to normal degree days and actual 2020 degree days to actual 2019 degree days.(1) Refer to page 16 for the General and Administrative Expense, Lease Operating and Transportation Expense and Depreciation, Depletion, and Amortization Expense for the Exploration and Production segment.(2) Amounts include transportation expense of $0.56 and $0.56 per Mcfe for the three months ended March 31, 2020 and March 31, 2019, respectively. Amounts include transportation expense of $0.57 and $0.55 per Mcfe for the six months ended March 31, 2020 and March 31, 2019, respectively.
NATIONAL FUEL GAS COMPANY
AND SUBSIDIARIESNON-GAAP FINANCIAL MEASURESIn addition to financial measures calculated in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP), this press release contains information regarding Adjusted Operating Results and Adjusted EBITDA, which are non-GAAP financial measures. The Company believes that these non-GAAP financial measures are useful to investors because they provide an alternative method for assessing the Company’s ongoing operating results and for comparing the Company’s financial performance to other companies. The Company’s management uses these non-GAAP financial measures for the same purpose, and for planning and forecasting purposes. The presentation of non-GAAP financial measures is not meant to be a substitute for financial measures in accordance with GAAP.Management defines Adjusted Operating Results as reported GAAP earnings before items impacting comparability. The following table reconciles National Fuel’s reported GAAP earnings to Adjusted Operating Results for the three and six months ended March 31, 2020 and 2019:Management defines Adjusted EBITDA as reported GAAP earnings before the following items: interest expense, income taxes, depreciation, depletion and amortization, other income and deductions, impairments, and other items reflected in operating income that impact comparability. The following tables reconcile National Fuel’s reported GAAP earnings to Adjusted EBITDA for the three and six months ended March 31, 2020 and 2019:NATIONAL FUEL GAS COMPANY
NON-GAAP FINANCIAL MEASURES
SEGMENT ADJUSTED EBITDA
Kenneth E. Webster
Karen L. Merkel