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Suburban Propane Partners, L.P. Announces First Quarter Results Following Twenty-Fourth Distribution Increase

WHIPPANY, N.J., Feb 04, 2010 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- Suburban Propane Partners, L.P. (NYSE: SPH), a nationwide distributor of propane, fuel oil and related products and services, as well as a marketer of natural gas and electricity, today announced earnings for its first quarter ended December 26, 2009. Net income amounted to $48.4 million, or $1.37 per Common Unit, compared to $80.7 million, or $2.46 per Common Unit, in the prior year quarter. Adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization ("Adjusted EBITDA") for the first quarter of fiscal 2010 amounted to $66.2 million, compared to $82.2 million in the prior year quarter. The first quarter of fiscal 2010 was characterized by challenges on several fronts; including rising commodity prices, the continued adverse affects of the weak economy and warmer than normal temperatures throughout much of the quarter. By comparison, the prior year first quarter benefitted from a rapid and dramatic decline in commodity prices which, as reported throughout the prior year, resulted in higher gross margins.

In announcing these results, President and Chief Executive Officer Michael J. Dunn, Jr., said, "Considering all the factors at play in the first quarter we are pleased with these earnings and, in fact, they were in line with our expectations. Despite a 9% decrease in propane sales volumes, we were able to achieve our plan for the quarter through our flexible cost structure, continued operating efficiencies and quality customer service. With the seasonal working capital needs funded entirely with on hand cash, we ended the quarter with more than $115 million of cash on the balance sheet. On the strength of our earnings and cash flow, and as announced on January 21, 2010, we are pleased to deliver our fifteenth consecutive increase in our quarterly distribution (twenty-fourth increase since the Recapitalization in 1999) to $0.835 per Common Unit, or $3.34 annualized, which represents more than 3% growth over the prior year first quarter."

Retail propane gallons sold in the first quarter of fiscal 2010 decreased 9.0 million gallons, or 9.1%, to 90.0 million gallons compared to 99.0 million gallons in the prior year quarter. Sales of fuel oil and other refined fuels decreased 3.6 million gallons, or 21.6%, to 13.1 million gallons during the first quarter of fiscal 2010 compared to 16.7 million gallons in the prior year quarter. The weak economy continues to negatively affect sales volumes, particularly in the Partnership's non-residential customer base, which accounted for 64% of the overall decline in propane sales volumes. From a weather perspective, average temperatures across the Partnership's service territories for the first quarter of fiscal 2010 were 2% warmer than both normal and the prior year first quarter. However, average temperatures throughout November 2009 and into the first half of December were 13% warmer than normal and 15% warmer than the comparable period in the prior year, also contributing to the decline in sales volumes in both propane and fuel oil.

Revenues of $301.4 million decreased $61.9 million, or 17.0%, compared to the prior year first quarter, primarily due to the aforementioned decrease in volumes sold and, to a lesser extent, lower average selling prices. Average posted prices for propane and fuel oil were 36.5% and 8.3% higher, respectively, compared to the prior year first quarter as commodity prices rose steadily throughout the first quarter of fiscal 2010, particularly towards the end of the quarter. Despite the increase in commodity prices year-over-year, cost of products sold for the first quarter of fiscal 2010 of $150.4 million decreased $23.8 million, or 13.7%, compared to $174.2 million in the prior year first quarter as a result of the lower volumes and lower average product costs as the impact of rising commodity prices was not yet fully reflected in the cost of products sold. Cost of products sold in the first quarter of fiscal 2010 included a $3.4 million unrealized (non-cash) loss attributable to the mark-to-market adjustment for derivative instruments used in risk management activities, compared to a $15.0 million unrealized (non-cash) gain in the prior year quarter; these unrealized gains and losses are excluded from Adjusted EBITDA for both periods in the table below.

Combined operating and general and administrative expenses of $88.2 million for the first quarter of fiscal 2010 were $3.6 million, or 3.9%, lower than the prior year quarter, primarily due to lower variable compensation attributable to lower earnings, as well as continued savings in payroll and vehicle expenses resulting from further operating efficiencies. Net interest expense decreased $2.2 million as a result of lower debt levels attributable to the $175 million debt repayment during the fourth quarter of fiscal 2009. Once again, the Partnership funded all working capital requirements with on hand cash without the need to borrow under its working capital facility and ended the first quarter of fiscal 2010 with more than $115 million of cash on hand.

On January 21, 2010, the Partnership announced that its Board of Supervisors declared the twenty-fourth increase (since the Partnership's recapitalization in 1999) in the Partnership's quarterly distribution from $0.83 to $0.835 per Common Unit for the three months ended December 26, 2009. On an annualized basis, this increased distribution rate equates to $3.34 per Common Unit, an increase of $0.02 per Common Unit from the previous distribution rate, and an increase of 3.1% compared to the first quarter of fiscal 2009. The $0.835 per Common Unit distribution will be paid on February 9, 2010 to Common Unitholders of record as of February 2, 2010.

Suburban Propane Partners, L.P. is a publicly-traded master limited partnership listed on the New York Stock Exchange. Headquartered in Whippany, New Jersey, Suburban has been in the customer service business since 1928. The Partnership serves the energy needs of approximately 850,000 residential, commercial, industrial and agricultural customers through more than 300 locations in 30 states.

This press release contains certain forward-looking statements relating to future business expectations and financial condition and results of operations of the Partnership, based on management's current good faith expectations and beliefs concerning future developments. These forward-looking statements are subject to certain risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those discussed or implied in such forward-looking statements, including the following:

  • The impact of weather conditions on the demand for propane, fuel oil and other refined fuels, natural gas and electricity;
  • Volatility in the unit cost of propane, fuel oil and other refined fuels and natural gas, the impact of the Partnership's hedging and risk management activities and the adverse impact of price increases on volumes as a result of customer conservation;
  • The ability of the Partnership to compete with other suppliers of propane, fuel oil and other energy sources;
  • The impact on the price and supply of propane, fuel oil and other refined fuels from the political, military or economic instability of the oil producing nations, global terrorism and other general economic conditions;
  • The ability of the Partnership to acquire and maintain reliable transportation for its propane, fuel oil and other refined fuels;
  • The ability of the Partnership to retain customers;
  • The impact of customer conservation, energy efficiency and technology advances on the demand for propane and fuel oil;
  • The ability of management to continue to control expenses;
  • The impact of changes in applicable statutes and government regulations, or their interpretations, including those relating to the environment and global warming and other regulatory developments on the Partnership's business;
  • The impact of changes in tax regulations that could adversely affect the tax treatment of the Partnership for federal income tax purposes;
  • The impact of legal proceedings on the Partnership's business;
  • The impact of operating hazards that could adversely affect the Partnership's operating results to the extent not covered by insurance;
  • The Partnership's ability to make strategic acquisitions and successfully integrate them;
  • The impact of current conditions in the global capital and credit markets, and general economic pressures; and
  • Other risks referenced from time to time in filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission ("SEC") and those factors listed or incorporated by reference into the Partnership's Annual Report under "Risk Factors."

Some of these risks and uncertainties are discussed in more detail in the Partnership's Annual Report on Form 10-K for its fiscal year ended September 26, 2009 and other periodic reports filed with the SEC. Readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on forward-looking statements, which reflect management's view only as of the date made. The Partnership undertakes no obligation to update any forward-looking statement, except as otherwise required by law.




               Suburban Propane Partners, L.P. and Subsidiaries
                     Consolidated Statements of Operations
               For the Three Months Ended December 26, 2009 and
                               December 27, 2008
                    (in thousands, except per unit amounts)
                                  (unaudited)

                                          Three Months Ended
                                      ----------------------------
                                      December 26,    December 27,
                                          2009            2008
                                      ------------    ------------
    Revenues
      Propane                             $233,531        $273,908
      Fuel oil and refined fuels            39,247          54,191
      Natural gas and electricity           16,862          22,281
      All other                             11,792          12,935
                                            ------          ------
                                           301,432         363,315

    Costs and expenses
      Cost of products sold                150,366         174,230
      Operating                             74,487          77,063
      General and administrative            13,738          14,770
      Depreciation and amortization          7,084           7,023
                                             -----           -----
                                           245,675         273,086

    Income before interest expense and
     provision for income taxes             55,757          90,229
    Interest expense, net                    7,183           9,403
                                             -----           -----

    Income before provision for income
     taxes                                  48,574          80,826
    Provision for income taxes                 199             138
                                               ---             ---

    Net income                             $48,375         $80,688
                                           =======         =======

    Net income per Common Unit - basic       $1.37           $2.46
                                             =====           =====
    Weighted average number of Common
     Units outstanding - basic              35,321          32,816
                                            ------          ------

    Net income per Common Unit - diluted     $1.36           $2.45
                                             =====           =====
    Weighted average number of Common
     Units outstanding - diluted            35,538          32,939
                                            ------          ------


    Supplemental Information:
    EBITDA (a)                             $62,841         $97,252
    Adjusted EBITDA (a)                    $66,249         $82,246
    Retail gallons sold:
      Propane                               89,981          99,047
      Refined fuels                         13,056          16,717
    Capital expenditures:
      Maintenance                           $1,151          $1,629
      Growth                                $3,341          $2,816



    (a)  EBITDA represents net income before deducting interest expense,
         income taxes, depreciation and amortization.   Adjusted EBITDA
         represents EBITDA excluding the unrealized net gain or loss on
         mark-to-market activity for derivative instruments.  Our
         management uses EBITDA and Adjusted EBITDA as measures of
         liquidity and we are including them because we believe that
         they provide our investors and industry analysts with additional
         information to evaluate our ability to meet our debt service
         obligations and to pay our quarterly distributions to holders of
         our Common Units.

         In addition, certain of our incentive compensation plans covering
         executives and other employees utilize Adjusted EBITDA as the
         performance target.  Moreover, our revolving credit agreement
         requires us to use Adjusted EBITDA as a component in calculating our
         leverage and interest coverage ratios.  EBITDA and Adjusted EBITDA
         are not recognized terms under generally accepted accounting
         principles ("GAAP") and should not be considered as an alternative
         to net income or net cash provided by operating activities
         determined in accordance with GAAP.  Because EBITDA and Adjusted
         EBITDA as determined by us excludes some, but not all, items that
         affect net income, they may not be comparable to EBITDA and
         Adjusted EBITDA or similarly titled measures used by other
         companies.


         The following table sets forth (i) our calculations of EBITDA and
         Adjusted EBITDA and (ii) a reconciliation of Adjusted EBITDA, as so
         calculated, to our net cash (used in) provided by operating
         activities:


                                         Three Months Ended
                                   ------------------------------
                                    December 26,     December 27,
                                        2009             2008
                                    ------------     ------------

      Net income                         $48,375          $80,688
      Add:
        Provision for income taxes           199              138
        Interest expense, net              7,183            9,403
        Depreciation and amortization      7,084            7,023
                                           -----            -----
      EBITDA                              62,841           97,252
        Unrealized (non-cash) losses
         (gains) on changes in fair
         value of derivatives              3,408          (15,006)
                                           -----          -------
      Adjusted EBITDA                     66,249           82,246
      Add / (subtract):
        (Provision for) income taxes        (199)            (138)
        Interest expense, net             (7,183)          (9,403)
        Unrealized (non-cash) (losses)
         gains on changes in fair
         value of derivatives             (3,408)          15,006
        Compensation cost recognized
         under Restricted Unit Plan          992              569
        Gain on disposal of property,
         plant and equipment, net           (427)            (230)
        Changes in working capital
         and other assets and
         liabilities                     (70,750)         (63,046)
                                         -------          -------

      Net cash (used in) provided by
       operating activities             $(14,726)         $25,004
                                        ========          =======

    The unaudited financial information included in this document is intended
    only as a summary provided for your convenience, and should be read in
    conjunction with the complete consolidated financial statements of
    the Partnership (including the Notes thereto, which set forth important
    information) contained in its Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q to be filed by
    the Partnership with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission
    ("SEC").  Such report, once filed, will be available on the public EDGAR
    electronic filing system maintained by the SEC.



SOURCE Suburban Propane Partners, L.P.