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NiSource Q4 Loss Widens; Withdraws 2020 Operating EPS View

NiSource Inc. (NI) reported that its fourth-quarter net loss to common shareholders widened to $153.0 million or $0.41 per share, from $19.8 million or $0.05 per share last year.

Net operating earnings available to common shareholders were $169.6 million or $0.45 per share, compared to $141.9 million or $0.38 per share in the prior year. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected the company to report earnings of $0.43 per share. Analysts' estimates typically exclude special items.

NiSource agreed to sell its Columbia Gas of Massachusetts assets to Eversource (ES) for $1.1 billion in a transaction expected to close by the end of the third quarter 2020.

Due to the execution of this transaction, NiSource has withdrawn its 2020 net operating earnings per share guidance of $1.36 to $1.40. However, NiSource continues to expect to make capital investments of $1.8 to $1.9 billion in 2020.

Following the completion of the transaction, the company expects to initiate 2021 net operating earnings per share guidance and establish a 5 to 7 percent long-term growth rate for both net operating earnings per share and dividend with 2021 as the base year.

The new long-term guidance is expected to be extended beyond 2022 to include significant investments related to the company's electric generation strategy.

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