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AltaGas guides to lower capex, doubled exports to Asia in 2020

AltaGas Ltd. plans to lower 2020 capital spending 31% from prior-year guidance, focusing on projects in its low-risk utility business, the company said a Dec. 17 news release.

The gas utility guided to EPS of C$1.20 to C$1.30 and normalized EBITDA in the range of C$1.28 billion to C$1.33 billion, a slight increase from its 2019 projection. Its core utilities and midstream segments are expected to see 15% growth in normalized EBITDA, which AltaGas said would more than offset lost EBITDA associated with assets it sold in 2019 to help fund its acquisition of WGL Holdings Inc.

AltaGas plans to fund capital investment of C$900 million, down from C$1.3 billion in 2019, through its existing financial capacity and embedded growth, supported by cash flows from its utility business and boosted volumes from its midstream facilities.

President and CEO Randy Crawford said in the release that the utility segment is expected to have EBITDA growth of more than 10% in 2020, supported by 10% rate base growth. About 45% of the capital budget for the utilities segment is allocated for accelerated replacement programs.

AltaGas forecasts a 100% increase in annual export volumes to Asia in 2020, driven by a full year of operations and increased utilization at the Ridley Island propane export terminal in British Columbia, which began shipping cargoes in May. Volumes are expected to exceed 50,000 barrels per day by year-end 2020. The midstream segment is projected to grow by 20% to 25%.

AltaGas also said its board of directors voted to suspend the dividend reinvestment program until further notice. The December dividend payable on Jan. 15, 2020, to shareholders as of record will be the last dividend payment eligible for reinvestment, according to the release.