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EQT doubles net income in final quarter

| Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014, 10:27 a.m.

Higher prices and the growing use of natural gas for power generation are stoking EQT Corp.'s optimism about 2014.

The sanguine assessment from executives was given Thursday as the company posted earnings in the fourth quarter that were double what it made in the same period a year ago.

The October-December quarter was helped by extreme and prolonged cold snaps this winter that increased demand for natural gas. The strong demand helped to push up prices for EQT's Appalachian gas, executives said in a call with analysts.

The trend could continue in the coming months because of increasing demand for gas from power generators to produce electricity and the need to replenish reserves that were depleted as people turned up the heat this winter.

The company has not given profit estimates for 2014. It has said it plans to spend $2.4 billion on capital projects — most of it for its production company. That should help grow production 24 percent in 2014, the company said.

EQT also said Thursday that it increased its proven reserves to the equivalent of 8.3 trillion cubic feet, up from the 6 trillion it estimated a year ago. Nearly 2 trillion of that came from the Marcellus shale.

The Downtown gas driller said Thursday it made $115 million, or 76 cents per share, from October through December. That was up from $48 million, or 32 cents a share, in the same period a year ago. Sales increased to $493.4 million from $406.2 million.

The results benefited from the $720 million sale of its distribution company to Peoples Natural Gas Co. in December. But EQT also reported a jump in profit for the production and pipeline divisions it kept. Those operations made nearly $62 million, or 41 cents a share, in the quarter. That was up from $33 million, or 22 cents a share, in the same period in 2012.

Timothy Puko is a Trib Total Media staff writer. He can be reached at 412-320-7991 or tpuko@tribweb.com.

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