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02.11.2017 21:20:00

Artesian Resources Corporation Reports 2017 Third Quarter and Year-to-Date Results and Announces Increase in Quarterly Dividend

NEWARK, Del., Nov. 02, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Artesian Resources Corporation (NASDAQ:ARTNA), a leading provider of water, wastewater services and related services on the Delmarva Peninsula, announced today that revenues for the third quarter of 2017 were $22.4 million, a $0.5 million, or 2.4%, increase over the same quarter of 2016.  Water sales revenue increased $0.4 million, or 1.9%, to $20.0 million for the third quarter of 2017 compared to $19.7 million for the third quarter of 2016.  The increase is due primarily to an increase in the Distribution System Improvement Charge, or DSIC, and an increase in the number of customers served, partially offset by a decrease in water consumption.    Excluding depreciation and income taxes, operating expenses increased $0.9 million, or 7.8%, to $12.0 million for the third quarter of 2017 compared to $11.1 million for the same period in 2016.  Utility operating expenses for the third quarter of 2017 were $10.1million, a $0.8 million, or 8.4%, increase from the $9.3 million recorded during the same period in 2016.  The increase is primarily the result of increased payroll and employee benefit costs, and repair and maintenance expenses related to water treatment equipment and storage tanks.  Interest expenses decreased $0.1 million, or 6.9%, to $1.5 million for the third quarter of 2017 compared to $1.6 million for the same period in 2016, primarily due to the refinancing of the company's Series O and Series Q First Mortgage Bonds in January 2017, reducing interest rates from 8.17% and 4.75%, respectively, to 4.24%.  Net income for the third quarter of 2017 was $3.9 million, a decrease of $0.4 million, or 9.6%, compared to the third quarter of 2016.  Diluted net income per share decreased 12.5%, to $0.42 for the third quarter of 2017 compared to $0.48 for the third quarter of 2016.Year to Date ResultsRevenues during the first nine months of 2017 increased $2.4 million, or 4.0%, to $62.0 million.  Water sales revenue increased $1.8 million, or 3.3%, for the nine months ended September 30, 2017 from the corresponding period in 2016.  The increase in water sales revenue is primarily due to an increase in the DSIC, an increase in the number of customers served and a slight increase in overall water consumption.  Excluding depreciation and income taxes, operating expenses increased $2.3 million, or 7.2%, to $34.2 million for the nine months ended September 30, 2017 compared to $31.9 million for the same period of 2016.  Utility operating expenses for the nine months ended September 30, 2017 were $28.6 million, a $2.0 million, or 7.4%, increase from the $26.6 million recorded for the same period of 2016.  The increase is primarily the result of increased payroll and employee benefit costs, and repair and maintenance expenses related to water treatment equipment and storage tanks.  The increase is also attributed to an increase in purchased water during a relocation of a major transmission main in northern New Castle County, Delaware due to state highway construction. Miscellaneous income decreased $0.4 million for the first nine months of 2017 compared to the same period a year ago primarily as a result of a pledge made to a non-profit entity in Delaware being organized to support the State's economic development efforts.Interest expenses decreased $0.4 million, or 7.6%, to $4.6 million for the nine months ended September 30, 2017 compared to $5.0 million for the same period of 2016 primarily due to the refinancing of the company's Series O and Series Q First Mortgage Bonds in January 2017, reducing interest rates from 8.17% and 4.75% respectively, to 4.24%.  Additionally, there was an interest rate change from 6.73% to 4.45% effective March 1, 2016 for the company's Series S First Mortgage Bond.  Through the first nine months of 2017, Artesian had net income of $10.3 million, an increase of $0.1 million, or 0.5%, compared to the same period of 2016.  Diluted net income per share decreased 0.9%, to $1.11 for the nine months ended September 30, 2017 compared to $1.12 for the same period in 2016.Artesian invested $28.3 million in infrastructure improvements during the first nine months of 2017 to ensure high quality and reliable service to its customers.  Significant infrastructure improvements included the replacement of aging water mains, enhancement of water treatment facilities, rehabilitation of pumping equipment, upgrade of meter equipment and the relocation of mains as mandated by state highway projects.  Artesian also invested in wastewater projects in Delaware, including ongoing construction of an eight mile pipeline and a 90 million gallon storage lagoon for spray irrigation to disperse treated wastewater from a new industrial customer."Through the first nine months of 2017, we have invested in major water infrastructure improvements to ensure our customers receive high-quality water and reliable service and in wastewater projects in Sussex County, Delaware, where new development is occurring," said Dian C. Taylor, Chair, President and CEO. Declaration of Quarterly Dividend Artesian Resources Corporation also announced today that its Board of Directors has approved a 1.5% increase in the company's Class A and Class B Common Stock dividend, raising the annual dividend to $0.9408 per share.  The quarterly dividend of $0.2352 per share is payable November 22, 2017 to shareholders of record at the close of business on November 13, 2017.  This marks Artesian Resources Corporation's 100th consecutive quarterly dividend and the 21st consecutive year dividends have been increased."Our 100th consecutive quarterly dividend marks a milestone that reflects our strong commitment to deliver consistent, solid returns to our shareholders while remaining focused on operating efficiently to deliver safe and reliable water and wastewater service to our customers," said Taylor.About Artesian ResourcesArtesian Resources Corporation operates as a holding company of wholly-owned subsidiaries offering water, wastewater services and related services on the Delmarva Peninsula.  Artesian Water Company, the principal subsidiary, is the oldest and largest regulated water utility on the Delmarva Peninsula and has been providing water service since 1905.  Artesian supplies 7.6 billion gallons of water per year through 1,260 miles of water main to approximately 301,000 people.  Artesian Resources Corporation Condensed Consolidated Statement of Operations (In thousands, except per share amounts) (Unaudited)     Full story available on Benzinga.com
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