California Water Service Group Announces Second Quarter 2022 Results

Jul 28th, 2022 9:00 EST

SAN JOSE, Calif., July 28, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- California Water Service Group (NYSE: CWT) ( “Group”) today announced net income attributable to Group of $19.5 million or $0.36 earnings per diluted common share for the second quarter of 2022, compared to net income attributable to Group of $38.2 million or $0.75 earnings per diluted common share for the second quarter of 2021.

        The $18.7 million decrease in net income attributable to Group was primarily due to a reduction of $15.2 million in accrued unbilled revenue and a $6.2 million decrease in unrealized gains on non-qualified benefit plan investments. Increases of $8.7 million in other operations expense, $1.6 million in depreciation and amortization, and $1.0 million in maintenance expense also reduced net income. The decrease in net income was partially offset by general rate increases of $6.9 million, increase in operating revenue from a change in deferred revenue of $5.1 million, and gain from company owned life insurance of $2.3 million. The $5.1 million change in deferred revenue offset $4.2 million of the increase in other operations expense.

The change in accrued unbilled revenue was mostly driven by the timing of when meter reads were completed during the month of June 2022 as compared to June 2021 and a decrease in customer consumption. In the second quarter of 2022, accrued unbilled revenue added $3.8 million to revenue as compared to $19.0 million for the same period last year. Over the past ten years, annual changes in accrued unbilled revenue have typically been less than $2.0 million. We expect the difference between 2022 and 2021 annual accrued unbilled revenue to be less than $2.0 million. Changes to unrealized gains on non-qualified benefit plan investments were caused by unfavorable market conditions.

According to President and Chief Executive Officer Martin A. Kropelnicki, results were in line with company expectations. “Although we were impacted by a few factors outside of our control, I’m pleased with second quarter results for our core operations. I’d also highlight that we:

  • Completed acquisitions in California, New Mexico, and Texas and entered into an agreement to acquire a system serving 900 customers in Washington.
  • Secured nearly $2.4 million in grants to fund improvements in two of our water-stressed, disadvantaged communities.
  • Moved all California districts into Stage 2 of our Water Shortage Contingency Plan and continued to respond to worsening drought conditions.
  • Renewed our at-the-market equity program with a planned size of up to $350 million over a three-year period to help fund our capital program.
  • Continued to work toward a successful conclusion of our 2021 California cost of capital review and general rate case filing.
  • And continued to invest in our water system infrastructure, including investments designed to better prepare us for wildfire and other climate change impacts.

Given the state of the economy and the uncertain timing of the conclusion of our general rate case in California, I expect the remainder of the year to be challenging. But I know I’m working alongside a strong, dedicated team of professionals who have a track record of performing in difficult times,” Kropelnicki said.

Additional Financial Results for the second quarter of 2022

Operating revenue decreased 3.3% to $206.2 million in the second quarter of 2022, a decrease of $6.9 million as compared to $213.1 million in the second quarter of 2021. The decrease was due primarily to a $15.2 million decrease in accrued unbilled revenue which was partially offset by general rate increases of $6.9 million and an increase from a change in deferred revenue of $5.1 million.

Total operating expenses increased $8.0 million, or 4.7%, to $178.9 million in the second quarter of 2022 compared to the prior year.

Water production costs decreased $4.0 million, or 5.3%, to $70.9 million in the second quarter of 2022, primarily due to a reduction in purchased water costs.

Administrative and general expenses increased $0.9 million, or 2.9%, to $32.7 million in the second quarter of 2022, due to increases in outside legal and consulting service costs of $0.8 million.

Other operations expenses increased $8.7 million, or 42.0%, to $29.4 million in the second quarter of 2022, primarily due to a $4.2 million increase in costs associated with a change in deferred revenue, $1.2 million increase in bad debt costs, and $0.9 million increase in conservation program expenses. Changes in conservation program expenses in regulated California operations generally do not affect net income, as the company has been allowed by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to record these costs in a balancing account for future recovery.

Depreciation and amortization expense increased $1.6 million, or 5.7%, to $28.8 million in the second quarter of 2022 due to utility plant placed in service in 2021.

Income taxes decreased $0.5 million, or 26.3%, to $1.5 million in the second quarter of 2022 mostly due to a reduction in net operating income in the second quarter of 2022 as compared to the prior year.

Property and other taxes increased $0.4 million, or 5.0%, to $8.1 million in the second quarter of 2022, due primarily to an increase in our assessed property values for utility plant placed in service.

Net other income decreased $3.7 million, or 55.6%, to $2.9 million in the second quarter of 2022, due primarily to a $6.2 million decrease in unrealized gains on non-qualified benefit plan investments, which was partially offset by a $2.3 million gain on company owned life insurance and $1.1 million increase in other components of net periodic benefit credit.

Year-to-Date Results

For the six month period ended June 30, 2022, net income attributable to Group was $20.6 million or $0.38 earnings per diluted common share, compared to a net income attributable to Group of $35.2 million or $0.69 earnings per diluted common share for the six month period ended June 30, 2021.         

The $14.6 million decrease in net income attributable to Group was primarily due to a reduction of $12.8 million in accrued unbilled revenue and a $9.4 million decrease in unrealized gains on non-qualified benefit plan investments. Increases of $16.7 million in other operations expense, $4.0 million in administrative and general expense, $3.2 million in depreciation and amortization, $1.6 million in maintenance expense, and $1.2 million in net interest expense also reduced net income. The decrease in net income was partially offset by general rate increases of $12.1 million, increase in operating revenue from a change in deferred revenue of $14.5 million, gain from company owned life insurance of $2.7 million, increase in other components of net periodic benefit credit of $2.1 million, decrease in income tax expense of $1.8 million, and increase in non-regulated revenue of $1.3 million. The $14.5 million change in deferred revenue offset $11.9 million of the increase in other operations expense.

The change in accrued unbilled revenue was mostly driven by the timing of when meter reads were completed during the month of June 2022 as compared to June 2021 and a decrease in customer consumption. In the first six months of 2022, accrued unbilled revenue added $6.1 million to revenue as compared to $18.9 million in the same period last year. We expect the difference between 2022 and 2021 annual accrued unbilled revenue to be less than $2.0 million. Changes to unrealized gains on benefit plan investments were caused by unfavorable market conditions.              Liquidity and Financing

The company maintained $61.7 million of cash as of June 30, 2022 and had additional short-term borrowing capacity of more than $480.0 million, subject to meeting the borrowing conditions on the company’s line of credit facilities. Aged accounts receivable past due more than 60 days increased from $15.3 million as of March 31, 2022 to $20.6 million as of June 30, 2022; however, as of July 26, 2022 Cal Water is allowed to disconnect service for nonpayment of bills.             

The company invested $144.6 million in infrastructure improvements during the six month period ended June 30, 2022. For 2022, the company's capital program will be dependent in part on the timing and nature of regulatory approvals in connection with our California general rate case (GRC) filing. The company proposed to the CPUC spending $1.0 billion on new capital projects in 2022-2024. We evaluate new capital project expenditures in California in the context of the pending GRC and these may change as the case moves forward.   

On July 27, 2022, the Board of Directors approved a quarterly cash dividend of $0.25 per share of common stock.

Water Revenue Adjustment Mechanism (WRAM) and Modified Cost Balancing Account (MCBA)

The under-collected net receivable balance in the WRAM and MCBA balancing account was $77.4 million as of June 30, 2022, a decrease of 2.7% or $2.2 million from the balance of $79.6 million as of March 31, 2022.

Other Information

All stockholders and interested investors are invited to listen to the 2022 second quarter conference call on July 28, 2022 at 8:00 a.m. PT (11:00 a.m. ET) by dialing 1-800-715-9871 or 1-646-307-1963 and keying in ID #1318225. Please dial in at least 15 minutes in advance of the call to ensure a timely connection. A replay of the call will be available from 11:00 a.m. PT (2:00 p.m. ET) on July 28, 2022 through September 28, 2022, at 1-800-715-9871 or 1-646-307-1963, ID #1318225. The replay will also be available under the investor relations tab at www.calwatergroup.com. Prior to the call, the company will post a slide presentation on its website. The presentation can be found at www.calwatergroup.com/docs/q22022slides.pdf after 6:00 a.m. PT. The call will be hosted by President and Chief Executive Officer Martin A. Kropelnicki, Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Thomas F. Smegal III, and Vice President and Corporate Controller David B. Healey.

California Water Service Group is the parent company of regulated utilities California Water Service, Hawaii Water Service, New Mexico Water Service, and Washington Water Service, as well as Texas Water Service, a utility holding company. Together, these companies provide regulated and non-regulated water and wastewater service to more than 2.1 million people in California, Hawaii, New Mexico, Washington, and Texas. California Water Service Group’s common stock trades on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol “CWT.” Additional information is available online at www.calwatergroup.com.

This news release contains forward-looking statements within the meaning established by the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 ("Act"). The forward-looking statements are intended to qualify under provisions of the federal securities laws for "safe harbor" treatment established by the Act. Forward-looking statements are based on currently available information, expectations, estimates, assumptions and projections, and management's judgment about the Company, the water utility industry and general economic conditions. Such words as will, would, expects, intends, plans, believes, may, estimates, assumes, anticipates, projects, progress, predicts, hopes, targets, forecasts or variations of such words or similar expressions are intended to identify forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements are not guarantees of future performance. They are subject to uncertainty and changes in circumstances. Actual results may vary materially from what is contained in a forward-looking statement. Factors that may cause a result different than expected or anticipated include, but are not limited to: the impact of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and related public health measures; our ability to invest or apply the proceeds from the issuance of common stock in an accretive manner; governmental and regulatory commissions' decisions, including decisions on proper disposition of property; consequences of eminent domain actions relating to our water systems; changes in regulatory commissions' policies and procedures, such as the CPUC’s decision in 2020 to preclude companies from proposing fully decoupled WRAMs in their next GRC filing (which impacted our 2021 GRC filing related to our operations commencing in 2023); the outcome and timeliness of regulatory commissions' actions concerning rate relief and other matters, including with respect to our 2021 GRC filing; increased risk of inverse condemnation losses as a result of climate change and drought; our ability to renew leases to operate water systems owned by others on beneficial terms; changes in California State Water Resources Control Board water quality standards; changes in environmental compliance and water quality requirements; electric power interruptions, especially as a result of Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) programs; housing and customer growth; the impact of opposition to rate increases; our ability to recover costs; availability of water supplies; issues with the implementation, maintenance or security of our information technology systems; civil disturbances or terrorist threats or acts; the adequacy of our efforts to mitigate physical and cyber security risks and threats; the ability of our enterprise risk management processes to identify or address risks adequately; labor relations matters as we negotiate with the unions; changes in customer water use patterns and the effects of conservation, including as a result of drought conditions; our ability to complete, in a timely manner or at all, successfully integrate and achieve anticipated benefits from announced acquisitions; the impact of weather, climate change, natural disasters, and actual or threatened public health emergencies, including disease outbreaks, on our operations, water quality, water availability, water sales and operating results and the adequacy of our emergency preparedness; restrictive covenants in or changes to the credit ratings on our current or future debt that could increase our financing costs or affect our ability to borrow, make payments on debt or pay dividends; risks associated with expanding our business and operations geographically; the impact of stagnating or worsening business and economic conditions, including inflationary pressures, general economic slowdown or a recession, increasing interest rates, and changes in monetary policy; and other risks and unforeseen events described in our SEC filings. When considering forward-looking statements, you should keep in mind the cautionary statements included in this paragraph, as well as the Annual 10-K, Quarterly 10-Q, and other reports filed from time-to-time with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The Company assumes no obligation to provide public updates of forward-looking statements.

ContactTom Smegal (408) 367-8200 (analysts)

Shannon Dean (408) 367-8243 (media)

CALIFORNIA WATER SERVICE GROUP    
CONDENSED CONSOLIDATED BALANCE SHEETS    
Unaudited    
       
(In thousands, except per share data)June 30 December 31 
    2022   2021  
ASSETS     
Utility plant:    
 Utility plant$4,341,433  $4,197,344  
 Less accumulated depreciation and amortization (1,406,757)  (1,350,482) 
  Net utility plant 2,934,676   2,846,862  
Current assets:    
 Cash and cash equivalents 61,749   78,380  
 Receivables:    
  Customers, net 68,404   60,785  
  Regulatory balancing accounts 56,625   78,597  
  Other, net 19,803   18,452  
 Unbilled revenue, net 38,796   32,760  
 Materials and supplies at weighted average cost 10,567   9,511  
 Taxes, prepaid expenses, and other assets 20,708   21,973  
  Total current assets 276,652   300,458  
Other assets:    
 Regulatory assets 287,625   285,692  
 Goodwill 36,814   36,814  
 Other assets 146,985   153,445  
  Total other assets 471,424   475,951  
TOTAL ASSETS$3,682,752  $3,623,271  
       
CAPITALIZATION AND LIABILITIES    
Capitalization:    
 Common stock, $.01 par value; 68,000 shares authorized, 54,356 and 53,716 outstanding in 2022 and 2021, respectively$544  $537  
 Additional paid-in capital 682,353   651,121  
 Retained earnings 519,625   525,936  
 Noncontrolling interests 4,784   5,386  
  Total equity 1,207,306   1,182,980  
 Long-term debt, net 1,054,170   1,055,794  
  Total capitalization 2,261,476   2,238,774  
Current liabilities:    
 Current maturities of long-term debt, net 5,783   5,192  
 Short-term borrowings 70,000   35,000  
 Accounts payable 139,732   144,369  
 Regulatory balancing accounts 9,627   17,547  
 Accrued interest 6,740   6,542  
 Accrued expenses and other liabilities 54,201   47,926  
  Total current liabilities 286,083   256,576  
Deferred income taxes 300,489   298,945  
Pension   94,796   92,287  
Regulatory liabilities and other 254,109   252,938  
Advances for construction 198,674   198,086  
Contributions in aid of construction 287,125   285,665  
Commitments and contingencies    
TOTAL CAPITALIZATION AND LIABILITIES$3,682,752  $3,623,271  
       

CALIFORNIA WATER SERVICE GROUP    
CONDENSED CONSOLIDATED STATEMENTS OF OPERATIONS    
Unaudited    
(In thousands, except per share data)    
       
For the Three Months ended:    
   June 30, June 30, 
    2022   2021  
       
Operating revenue$206,194  $213,123  
Operating expenses:    
 Operations:    
  Water production costs 70,907   74,911  
  Administrative and general 32,686   31,756  
  Other operations 29,417   20,720  
 Maintenance 7,615   6,610  
 Depreciation and amortization 28,773   27,237  
 Income taxes 1,454   1,972  
 Property and other taxes 8,053   7,671  
 Total operating expenses 178,905   170,877  
  Net operating income 27,289   42,246  
Other income and expenses:    
 Non-regulated revenue 7,002   5,374  
 Non-regulated expenses (8,541)  (1,815) 
 Other components of net periodic benefit credit 3,765   2,688  
 Allowance for equity funds used during construction 1,042   848  
 Income tax expense on other income and expenses (345)  (512) 
  Net other income 2,923   6,583  
Interest expense:    
 Interest expense 11,586   11,206  
 Allowance for borrowed funds used during construction (589)  (453) 
  Net interest expense 10,997   10,753  
Net income  19,215   38,076  
Net loss attributable to noncontrolling interests (269)  (149) 
Net income attributable to California Water Service Group$19,484  $38,225  
Earnings per share of common stock     
 Basic$0.36  $0.75  
 Diluted$0.36  $0.75  
Weighted average shares outstanding    
 Basic 54,007   51,080  
 Diluted 54,042   51,080  
Dividends per share of common stock$0.25  $0.23  
       
       
       
CALIFORNIA WATER SERVICE GROUP    
CONDENSED CONSOLIDATED STATEMENTS OF OPERATIONS    
Unaudited    
(In thousands, except per share data)    
       
For the Six Months ended:    
   June 30, June 30, 
    2022   2021  
       
Operating revenue$379,187  $360,860  
Operating expenses:    
 Operations:    
  Water production costs 132,445   129,737  
  Administrative and general 66,097   62,125  
  Other operations 55,269   38,632  
 Maintenance 14,956   13,379  
 Depreciation and amortization 57,543   54,284  
 Income taxes 37   1,871  
 Property and other taxes 16,413   15,667  
 Total operating expenses 342,760   315,695  
  Net operating income 36,427   45,165  
Other income and expenses:    
 Non-regulated revenue 12,199   10,946  
 Non-regulated expenses (15,527)  (6,575) 
 Other components of net periodic benefit credit 7,779   5,667  
 Allowance for equity funds used during construction 2,017   1,392  
 Income tax expense on other income and expenses (857)  (870) 
  Net other income 5,611   10,560  
Interest expense:    
 Interest expense 23,081   21,428  
 Allowance for borrowed funds used during construction (1,152)  (747) 
  Net interest expense 21,929   20,681  
Net income  20,109   35,044  
Net loss attributable to noncontrolling interests (461)  (149) 
Net income attributable to California Water Service Group$20,570  $35,193  
Earnings per share of common stock     
 Basic$0.38  $0.69  
 Diluted$0.38  $0.69  
Weighted average shares outstanding    
 Basic 53,870   50,762  
 Diluted 53,918   50,762  
Dividends per share of common stock$0.50  $0.46  
       

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