New Jersey Resources (NJR) 23Q2 Update

NJR reported 23Q2 GAAP net income of $1.13 per diluted share and net financial earnings (NFE), a non-GAAP measure, of $1.16 per basic share.  That compares with 22Q2 GAAP net income of $1.00 per share and NFE per basic share (NFEPS) of $1.36.  I had anticipated GAAP EPS of $1.19 and NFEPS of $1.20.  The consensus NFEPS estimate was $1.19.  Management said that the company’s performance was “solid” and reaffirmed its fiscal 2023 NFE guidance of $2.62-$2.72.

NFE across each business segment was in line with my expectations.  NJNG’s earnings of $100.7 million were 2% above estimates, but Clean Energy Venture’s $9.4 million loss was greater than my $7.2 million loss estimate.  Energy Services’ earnings, which are hard to forecast because they are volatile, were in line with my estimates.  The $3.4 million earnings reduction from intercompany eliminations was greater than usual.  Over the previous nine quarters, the average intercompany elimination was close to zero.  Most of NJR’s intercompany transactions occur between NJNG and Energy Services.

Based upon the modestly weaker-than-anticipated results, I have reduced my 2023 GAAP diluted EPS estimate from $2.71 to $2.66 and my basic NFE per share estimate from $2.69 to $2.65.  For fiscal 2024, I now anticipate GAAP EPS of $2.70 and NFEPS of $2.74, both down a penny from my previous report.  Although its businesses appear to be well positioned for the future, my analysis suggests that it will be difficult for NJR to replicate fiscal 2023’s strong financial performance in 2024.

Since my last report on April 28, NJR’s stock has declined 5.3%.  That is comparable to the Dow Jones U.S. Gas Utility Index’s 5.0% decline but lags the S&P MidCap 400’s 0.25% gain.  Utility stocks in general underperformed the broader market over the past month, falling about 7% on average.  Gas utilities have therefore fared better electric and multiutilities.  The catalyst for the declines in utilities appears to be the drop in oil and natural gas commodity prices, which is surprising since the cost of natural gas is a pass-through for most gas utilities.

On Friday, NJR and other gas utilities rallied sharply, along with the rest of the market, apparently in response to the Senate’s passing legislation to lift the Federal government’s debt ceiling.  NJR’s stock jumped 3.4%, more than the average 2.0% advance in peers.  Trading volume, though, was not especially robust and in line with recent daily averages.

Based upon 23Q2 results and my forward earnings expectations, I am raising my price target on NJR’s stock by $1 to $52.  The price target implies a forward multiple of 19.0, equal to NJR’s current one-year forward multiple and modestly above the peer group average of 17.3, multiplied by projected 2024 non-GAAP NFE per share of $2.74. That equates to a potential total return of 6.5%.  My performance rating of “3” (Neutral) is unchanged.  That said, NJR and its peers could outperform, reversing May’s underperformance, if the outlook for oil and natural gas prices improves.

This is a summary of my recent report on New Jersey Resources (NJR). To obtain a copy of the full report, please reach out to me using the contact information provided below.

June 16, 2023 (the date of the report is June 5, 2023)

Stephen P. Percoco
Lark Research
839 Dewitt Street
Linden, New Jersey 07036
(908) 975-0250

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