PhillyInc: Bryn Mawr's Aqua America sees 12% rise in revenue

Posted: February 27, 2013

The last place I expected to hear an Academy Awards shout-out was on an earnings conference call by a water utility with analysts.

But there was Aqua America Inc. chief executive Nicholas DeBenedictis congratulating Jennifer Lawrence, who won the best actress Oscar on Sunday night.

Why? "Thanks to all the water she drank during the making of Silver Linings Playbook, which was filmed less than a mile from our headquarters," DeBenedictis said.

I think he may have been stretching the suburbs' geography a bit in placing Aqua's Bryn Mawr headquarters so close to the movie's shooting locations in Upper Darby, Lansdowne, and other Delaware County towns.

Regardless, someone was drinking lots of Aqua America's tap water, taking long showers, or washing lots of clothes during the last three months of 2012. The company reported a 12 percent increase in revenue, to $187.5 million.

The water utility's quarterly net income jumped 96 percent, to $66.6 million, or 47 cents per share, compared with $34.0 million, or 24 cents per share, for the same period in 2011.

For the year as a whole, Aqua America reported higher profits of $196.6 million, or $1.40 per share, on revenue of $757.8 million, compared with $143.1 million, or $1.03 per share, on revenue of $687.3 million the previous year.

Despite such strong financial results, shares of Aqua America had trouble swimming against the stock market's riptide Monday. Aqua shares fell 32 cents, or 1 percent, to $28.61, on a day when the Dow Jones industrial average lost more than 200 points, or 1.6 percent. DeBenedictis, who has been CEO since 1992, said it was the 13th year in a row that Aqua set a company record for net income. And he offered another spin on the results: It took 125 years for the company once known as Philadelphia Suburban Water Co. to break the $100 million mark for net income, as it did in 2009. Now, the company expects to surpass $200 million during 2013.

That may be music to the ears of Aqua's shareholders, but higher profits are probably not going to sound appealing to the three million residents in 10 states who pay monthly for their water service.

  


Contact Mike Armstrong

at 215-854-2980 or marmstrong@phillynews.com, or @PhillyInc on Twitter. Read his blog, "PhillyInc," at www.phillyinc.biz.

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