Montreal, February 4, 2009 – For the first quarter of the 2009 fiscal year, Gaz Métro Limited Partnership (TSX: GZM.UN, Gaz Métro) reports adjusted net income of $71.2 million, or $0.59 per unit, which is $3.8 million, or $0.03 per unit, higher than adjusted net income for the first quarter the previous year1.
This increase is attributable to solid results for the Energy Distribution Sector (distribution of natural gas in Quebec and natural gas and electricity in Vermont) as well as improved profitability of the Energy Services Sector.
"While no business is immune to the repercussions of an economic slowdown like the one we are experiencing at present, our investors can take comfort in Gaz Métro’s defensive attributes. The fact its core business, the distribution of natural gas, is closely tied to heating homes and businesses, provides it with a certain financial stability. During this turbulent period, Gaz Métro intends to stay the course, maintain its financial and operational discipline and continue to manage the funds entrusted to it by its investors with rigour", said Sophie Brochu, President and Chief Executive Officer.
"In Quebec, the profitability of the gas distribution activities is not affected by the decrease in natural gas prices that generally accompanies an economic slowdown. On the contrary, the reduction in prices results directly in a lower bill for our customers, thereby improving the competitive position of natural gas in relation to other energies, which is even more advantageous at a time when our customers are watching their expenses more closely than ever", added Sophie Brochu.
Net income for the Energy Distribution Sector was $66.8 million during the first quarter of the current fiscal year, which is $3.8 million higher than the corresponding quarter the previous year.
The reason for this, among others, is a $1.8 million2 increase in net income from the Vermont distribution activity. An increase in Vermont Gas Systems’ (VGS) deliveries due to relatively colder temperatures than during the first quarter the previous year, coupled with the appreciation in the value of the U.S. dollar in relation to the Canadian dollar, increased the net income of VGS and Green Mountain Power Corporation (GMP). Although net income for the Quebec distribution activity (Gaz Métro-QDA) was also up $2.0 million, this should reverse by the end of the 2009 fiscal year because of timing differences in recognizing revenues and recording costs.
In addition, net income for the Energy Services Sector was $1.4 million, which is $1.5 million higher than the corresponding quarter the previous year. This significant improvement is due to higher net income for some of Gaz Métro Plus Limited Partnership’s subsidiaries, notably Consulgaz Inc. and Climatisation et Chauffage Urbains de Montréal, s.e.c., and for Aqua-Rehab Inc.
Énergir inc., as the General Partner of Gaz Métro, today declared a distribution of $0.31 per unit payable on April 1, 2009 to Partners of record at the close of business on March 16, 2009. Gaz Métro expects to maintain this level of distribution for the remainder of the 2009 fiscal year.
The Partnership will hold a telephone conference with financial analysts on Wednesday, February 4, 2009, at 4:00 p.m. (Eastern time) to discuss its results for the first quarter ended December 31, 2008. Sophie Brochu, President and Chief Executive Officer, and Pierre Despars, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, will be the main speakers. This will be followed by a question period. Media and other interested individuals are invited to listen in.
The conference can be accessed live by dialling 416-644-3414 or toll-free 1-800-733-7560. It will also be Webcast on Gaz Métro’s Web site in the “Webcasts
Rebroadcasts can be accessed for 30 days by telephone at 416-640-1917 or toll-free at 1-877-289-8525 (access code: 21294929#), and for 90 days on Gaz Métro’s Web site.Énergir Overview
With nearly $3.6 billion in assets, Gaz Métro is Quebec’s natural gas distribution company. Working in this regulated industry for over 50 years, Gaz Métro has become the trusted energy provider to over 179,600 customers in Quebec and 134,500 customers in Vermont while developing the skills and expertise needed to diversify beyond natural gas. Gaz Métro’s prudent growth strategy has been met with the successful entry into electricity distribution in Vermont and in the wind power sector. Offering strong and stable distributions with a competitive spirit, Gaz Métro is committed to its customers, unitholders, employees and community.CAUTIONARY NOTE REGARDING FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS
Certain statements in this press release may be forward-looking pursuant to applicable securities laws. Such forward-looking information reflects the intentions, plans, expectations and opinions of the management of Gaz Métro inc. (GMi), Gaz Métro’s general partner, and are based on information currently available to management and on assumptions with respect to future events. The words "plans", "expects", "estimates", "forecasts", "intends", "anticipates" or "believes", or similar expressions, including the negative of these terms and future or conditional forms, often identify forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements involve known and unknown risks and uncertainties and other factors outside management’s control. A number of factors could cause actual results of GMi and Gaz Métro to differ materially from the results discussed in the forward-looking statements, including, but not limited to, terms of decisions rendered by regulatory bodies, general economic conditions, the competitiveness of natural gas in relation to other energy sources, the reliability of natural gas supplies, the integrity of the natural gas distribution system, exchange rates fluctuations and other factors described in the 2008 Annual Information Form of each of Gaz Métro and GMi under the item "Risks", and in the Management’s Discussion and Analysis for the period ended December 31, 2008. Although the forward-looking statements contained herein are based upon what management believes to be reasonable assumptions, including assumptions to the effect that no unforeseen changes in the legislative and operating framework of energy markets in Quebec and in the State of Vermont will occur, that no significant event occurring outside the ordinary course of business, such as a natural disaster or other calamity, will occur, and other assumptions described in the Management’s Discussion and Analysis for the period ended December 31, 2008, management cannot assure investors that actual results will be consistent with these forward-looking statements. These forward-looking statements are made as of this date, and management assumes no obligation to update or revise them to reflect new events or circumstances, except as required pursuant to applicable securities laws. Readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements.ADJUSTED INDICATORS NOT STANDARDIZED IN ACCORDANCE WITH GAAP
In the view of Gaz Métro’s management, certain “adjusted” indicators, such as adjusted net income and adjusted net income per unit provide readers with information it considers useful for analyzing its financial results. However, they are not standardized in accordance with Canadian generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) and should not be considered in isolation or as substitutes for other performance measures that are in accordance with GAAP. The results obtained might not be comparable with similar indicators used by other issuers and should therefore only be considered as complementary information.
1 Adjusted net income excludes an unfavourable non-monetary adjustment of $0.7 million for the first quarter of the 2009 fiscal year and a favourable non-monetary adjustment of $2.2 million for the first quarter of the 2008 fiscal year, related to future income taxes.
2 Net of financing costs.
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