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South Jersey Industries Profit Declines - Update

Gas utility South Jersey Industries Inc. (SJI), Thursday reported a lower fourth-quarter profit, partly hurt by derivative losses. The company's earnings missed Street estimates. South Jersey said that while earnings from gas utility business grew slightly during the quarter, its non-utility businesses slackened, mainly at Wholesale Energy.

The company also said that Wholesale gas marketing continues to be impacted by thin storage spreads as seasonal variations in prices and the value of transportation assets are not robust.

The Folsom, New Jersey-based company reported fourth-quarter net income from continuing operations of $25.6 million or $0.81 per share, compared with $37 million or $1.22 per share last year.

Results for the reporting quarter included, among other items, derivative losses of $3.6 million, compared with gains of over $5 million in the prior year.

Excluding items, economic earnings for the quarter totaled $30.60 million or $0.98 per share, compared with $31.8 million or $1.05 per share a year ago.

On average, 3 analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected earnings of $1.05 per share for the quarter. Analysts' estimates typically exclude special items.

Among segments, net income at its utility business, South Jersey Gas, edged up to $19.4 million from $19.3 million last year. Results in 2012 benefited from the impact of incremental investments under infrastructure programs and residential customer growth, the company said.

The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities recently approved a new four year accelerated infrastructure investment program that permits investments of $35.3 million annually, for a total of $141.2 million.

South Jersey Gas added 6,002 net customers in 2012, for a total of 357,306 customer, primarily through converting customers to natural gas from other fuel sources.

The company's non-utility businesses, comprising Wholesale Energy and Retail Energy, reported net income from continuing operations of $6 million for the quarter. This compares with income of $17.7 million last year. Results were hurt by mark-to-market accounting rules on its retail and wholesale commodity marketing businesses.

The company's stock is trading at $55.02, up 0.95%, on the NYSE.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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