Unitil posts 34% quarterly increase

Unitil Corp. reported first quarter earnings of $8.7 million – an increase of $2.2 million, or 33.8 percent, from the first quarter in 2010, said the Hampton-based utility in a release.Earnings per share were 81 cents, a boost of 20 cents per share from the same quarter last year.Gas sales rose 12.7 percent in the first quarter ended March 31, to $81.6 million, up from $72.4 million in the first quarter of 2010.Sales in the electricity unit also climbed nearly 5 percent to $435.5 million, from $415.2 million in the year-ago quarter.Usource, the company’s non-regulated energy brokering business, recorded revenues of $1.3 million in the three months ended March 31, an increase of $200,000 compared to 2010.Operation expenses increased some $800,000 in the first quarter compared to the same timeframe last year. The company said the increases were due to higher operating costs, professional fees and benefit costs, and were partially offset by the receipt of proceeds from an insurance settlement.”We achieved strong first quarter financial results due to increased unit sales which resulted from an improving economy and colder than normal winter weather” said Robert G. Schoenberger, Unitil’s chairman and chief executive officer. “We expect continued improving financial performance as we complete the resetting of rates for all of our distribution utilities by the end of the year.”Unitil also announced a quarterly dividend of more than 34 cents per share to stockholders.The company gave a routine outlook, with revenues expecting to reflect the seasonal heating patterns. – CINDY KIBBE/NEW HAMPSHIRE BUSINESS REVIEW

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