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Southwest Gas Management Discusses Q4 2012 Results Good day, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to Moncler Down Jackets Women Khaki Matt Fabric Wool Hat the 2012 year end earnings conference call. My name is Chanel, and I ll be your operator for today. [ Instructions] As a reminder, this conference is being recorded for replay purposes. I would now like to turn the conference over to Mr. Ken Kenny, VP, Finance and Treasurer. Please proceed.Thank you, Chanel. Welcome to the Southwest Gas Corporation 2012 Earnings Conference Call. As Chanel mentioned, my name is Ken Kenny, and I am Vice President of Finance and Treasurer. Our conference call is being broadcast live over the Internet. We will have slides on the Internet, which can be accessed to follow our presentation.Today, we have Mr. Jeffrey W. Shaw, Southwest s President and Chief Executive Officer; Mr. Roy R. Centrella, Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer; and Mr. John P. Hester, Senior Vice President, Regulatory Affairs and Energy Resources; and other members of senior management to provide a brief overview of 2012 earnings and an outlook for 2013.Our general practice is not to provide earnings projections. Therefore, no attempt will be made to project the earnings for 2013. Rather, the company will address those factors that may impact this coming year s earnings.Further, our lawyers have asked me to remind you that some of the information that will be discussed contains forward looking statements. These statements are based on management assumptions, which may or may not come true, and you should refer to the language in the press release, our SEC filings and also Slide 2 presented today for a description of the factors that may cause actual results to differ from our forward looking statements. All forward looking statements are made as of today. We assume no obligation to update any such statement.With that said, I d like to turn the time over to Jeff.Thank you, Ken. We thank you for joining us today on the call and spending a few minutes with us as we discuss the year 2012 and speak a little bit to what our expectations are for the future.I m on we ll go move to Slide 3. We re pleased to report for 2012 that earnings reached a record level. Our stock price is trading today, as last time I looked, about $45 a share. Our financial position, our credit ratings have continued to improve. And earlier this week, the board increased the dividend on our common shares by nearly 12% from $1.18 to $1.32 on an annualized basis, the seventh consecutive year of dividend growth.With respect to highlights in Slide 3, what I wanted to talk about, first of all, is our earnings reached $2.89 per share, again, the seventh consecutive year that we ve increased our dividend. We have experienced now full decoupled rate designs in all of our jurisdictions as of the full year 2012. Nevada, we have new rate release in Nevada. Some portions of that rate case continue, and we will speak to that in just a few moments. This has this was the second highest year of earnings for our Construction Services company, and we will speak to NPL as part of this call today as well. And we did have, and it s part of NPL, an improvement in the contract loss that we spoke of at the midyear conference call and have disclosed in our public filings. We did see some improvement in that contract in the fourth quarter, and we will speak to that.Now for the call outline on Slide 4, we d like to address 2012 consolidated earnings. Roy Centrella, our Chief Financial Officer, will speak to that, as he will, NPL Construction Co., and what has been going on in that company over the last year. We will speak to Natural Gas Operations. Regulatory proceedings will be addressed by John Hester, who runs Girls Moncler our pricing and energy services area. I will then come back and speak to customer growth, what we are seeing, what we expect, and talk I will speak to construction expenditures. And we will speak to I will speak to dividends and then deliver some expectations for 2013 and going forward.So with that, what I d like to do then is move to Slide 5 and turn sometime over to Roy Centrella, our Chief Financial Officer, to address this portion of the presentation.Thank you, Jeff, and let me also welcome those of you joining us today. I plan to provide a summary of 2012 operating results, recap the primary factors impacting the change from 2011 and review some financing related activities. And I ll also comment on some expectations around 2013.So let s move to the slides. As Jeff mentioned, we re on Slide 5, consolidated net income increased from $112 million in 2011 to $133 million in 2012. As a result, basic earnings per share increased from $2.45 to $2.89. The earnings improvement was driven by strong performance in the Natural Gas segment, while NPL, our wholly owned construction subsidiary, declined from last year s record contribution but still posted their second best year. Most of today s discussion is going to focus on the Gas segment of the business, so let me first spend a few minutes on NPL.Slide 6, NPL highlights for the year included a 25% improvement in operating revenues, $8 million in gains on equipment sales and an improvement in the fixed price contract loss during the fourth quarter. Additionally, good progress was made towards the structural changes necessary for NPL operations given their increased size.On Slide 7, NPL revenue totaled $606 million in 2012, up from $484 million during 2011. The revenue increase resulted mainly from additional pipe replacement work, as many of their existing customers have embarked on significant multi year infrastructure replacement programs. In fact, about 75% of the 2012 revenue was derived from pipe replacement activity, which is similar to the percentage that was achieved in 2011.Despite the revenue increase, operating income declined from $35 million in 2011 to $27 million in 2012. The primary cause of the decline was a $15 million loss on a large pipe fixed price contract, which I ll discuss next, partially offset by increased gains on sales of equipment.So now let s review the contract loss, Slide 8. On prior calls, we discussed that NPL had a large fixed price contract in which it was losing money. During the first half of 2012, $18 million in pretax losses were recorded on this contract. During the second half of the year, NPL was successful in getting change orders processed, which reduced the full year loss to $15 million. The contract is now substantially complete, other than some restoration work, and no additional losses are expected in 2013.With that, we ll transition into the Gas segment, starting on Slide 9. Gas segment highlights included a record contribution to earnings, driven by Arizona rate relief and margin decoupling in all areas. We had strong returns on COLI policies, favorable refinancing results and Nevada rate relief granted late in the year, which John Hester will further discuss.On Slide 10, operating income improved by $29 million between 2011 and 2012, as the $52 million increase in operating margin was partially offset by higher O depreciation and property tax expenses. Other income was a significant factor, increasing $9.6 million between periods, while net interest deductions were also favorable, declining $1.8 million. Overall, the contribution to net income increased $25 million between periods.We ll walk through the income statement in a little more detail next. Slide 11 breaks down the increase in operating margin from 2011 to 2012. Rate relief contributed $47 million in incremental operating margin, with $45 million coming from Arizona and $2 million from Nevada. Customer growth contributed $5 million as the company increased its customer count by about 1%. For 2013, we would expect a similar level of customer growth and the remaining Nevada rate relief to be the primary drivers of incremental operating margin. Margin from our infrastructure tracking mechanisms, which is a strategic focus of ours, is not expected to be significant just yet.Slide 12 looks at operating expenses. They increased $23 million between years or 4%, which was consistent with our previously provided projections. O expenses were up $11.5 million or 3%, driven mainly by pension expense, which grew by $6 million, $1 million of leak survey costs pertaining to our customer owned yard line program in Arizona and general cost increases. Depreciation increased $11 million or 6% as we spent $309 million last year on capital expenditures.If you look back over a longer period of time, operating expenses on a per customer basis during the last 10 years increased just 1%, which was less than half the 2.4% rate of inflation during the same period. That said, for 2013, we see operating expenses increasing again at a 3% to 4% clip, with pension expense rising $5 million on a net basis due to the continued low interest rate environment.Slide 13, we have a mitigating factor to our operating cost increases. It comes from productivity improvements. One measure of that, that we are particularly focused on is the customer to employee ratio, which improved from 809 employees per customer to 836 between 2011 and 2012, an increase of 3%. Over the past decade, this ratio has improved 46% as we have embraced technology and process changes. Along the way, we have not sacrificed customer service as our customer satisfaction rating consistently averaged between 90% and 95%, including 2012, which was 93.5%.Slide 14, look at other income. Other income improved $9.6 million between years, as returns on investments underlying our customer owned I mean, our COLI policies, life insurance policies, were strong, and a pipe replacement program subject to partial non recoverability was concluded. With regards to COLI, we think returns in the range of $2 million to $4 million would represent a more normal level, but these returns are influenced by market forces and therefore, subject to volatility.Over the next couple slides, we ll be looking at our financing activity and liquidity. Slide 15 shows that net financing costs declined from $69 million in 2011 to $67 million in 2012. This resulted primarily from favorable refinancing activities, most notably a $200 million 7.625% note, which matured in May of 2012 and was replaced with a 3.875% note. A portion of the interest savings from this refinancing will carry over into 2013. As recently as 2008, Gas segment net financing costs totaled $91 million. In 2013, we expect to ring out additional savings based on the 2012 refinancing and some smaller redemption opportunities we have in March of this year.On Slide 16, you ll see that we have $45 million in debt redemptions that we are planning to do tomorrow, in fact. We ll use our existing credit facility Moncler Down Mens Grey Jackets Zip Hooded Collar to effect this transaction. And finally, with regards to liquidity, we refinanced our $300 million credit facility in March 2012. The new facility runs out 5 years and also supports a $50 million commercial paper program. Borrowings in recent years have been primarily seasonal to meet winter gas supply needs. And it s also used to bridge any long term financings to meet capital requirements. We believe the facility side is adequate for our needs.So with that, let me turn the discussion over to John Hester, who will provide a regulatory update.Thanks, Roy. Turning to Slide 17 for the regulatory portion of today s call, I d like to provide an update on a few key ongoing matters before our state commissions: first, in Nevada, an update on our continuing rate case proceeding; second, in California, a report on our 2013 attrition revenue change and our pending 2014 rate case; next, a summary of the company s activities related to infrastructure recovery mechanism; and finally, a brief update on our purchased gas balances.

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