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Spire's fiscal Q1 earnings remain stable amid warmer-than-normal weather

Spire Inc. reported 2017 fiscal first-quarter net economic earnings of $47.5 million, or $1.04 per share, remaining relatively flat compared to the prior-year quarter's $45.1 million, or $1.04 per share.

The S&P Capital IQ consensus normalized EPS estimate for the fiscal first quarter that ended Dec. 31, 2016, was $1.07.

Net economic earnings for the first quarter reflected higher earnings in Spire's gas utility and gas marketing segments. This figure excludes from net income the effect of unrealized gains and losses on energy-related derivatives, as well as the impacts of acquisition, divestiture and restructuring activities in the fiscal year.

On a GAAP basis, consolidated net income amounted to $45.2 million, or 99 cents per share, compared to $46.9 million, or $1.08 per share, in the same quarter a year ago. Total operating revenues were $495.1 million, up from $399.4 million in the year-ago quarter, while total operating expenses were posted at $406.0 million, rising from the year-ago quarter's $312.4 million.

Spire's first-quarter results were affected by milder winter weather and the timing and variability of degree days in the company's operating areas, which primarily cut demand and operating margin but benefited certain weather-sensitive expenses for Spire's gas utilities.

"We continued to deliver on our strategy and do what we said we would do. This includes investing in infrastructure upgrades and other organic growth initiatives, and progressing with our Spire STL Pipeline project," said Suzanne Sitherwood, president and CEO of Spire. "At the same time, we are working to complete the integration of our newest gas utilities and the transition of all of our utilities to Spire late this summer."

Spire said it is on target to meet its target net economic EPS of $3.50 to $3.60 for the full fiscal 2017. The company expects to spend $370 million of its $410 million of capital expenditures in fiscal 2017 on its gas utilities.