Unitil plans new offering of 2.3m shares

Unitil Corp. plans to sell another 2.3 million shares of stock, hoping to get $26.37 a share and raise some $57.1 million, primarily to pay off short-term debt, according to filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.The Hampton-based utility gave its underwriters the OK to purchase another 345,000 shares to cover any over-allotments, which could raise an additional $8.6 million.When completed, the number of shares outstanding would increase from just under 11 million to somewhere between 13.3 and 13.6 million shares. Shareholders’ proportionate holdings would be reduced by between 17.3 to 19.4 percent, according to the filing.As of May 4, the company had 1,564 shareholders of record.While the company said proceeds of the sale would be used for “equity capital contributions to our regulated utility subsidiaries, to repay short-term debt and for general corporate purposes,” a chart describing the filing assumes that $57.1 million would be used to pay off short-term debt, reducing it from $77.6 million to $20.5 million.Unitil had revenues of $352.8 million in 2011, with net income of $16.4 million in net income, or $1.50 a share. In the first quarter, it posted $9 million in net income, slightly higher than the same quarter the previous year, while revenue dropped slightly to $114.2 million thanks to a mild heating season.Some $64 million of that revenue came from natural gas sales, indicating how the utility has transformed since it acquired Northern Utilities and Granite State Gas Transmission from NiSource in 2008 — just when gas prices started to plummet, causing many consumers to switch their heat from oil to gas.Unitil shares closed at $25.65 on Wednesday, down $1.17 from Tuesday’s close of $26.82. — BOB SANDERS/NEW HAMPSHIRE BUSINESS REVIEW

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