Summer temperatures mean losses for AmeriGas

propane tanks
Photo: Creative Commons.

By Tobias Burns

AmeriGas Partners LP, the nation’s largest propane retailer, said Thursday that its customary summer-quarter loss had narrowed to $47.3 million, or 58 cents per diluted unit, from $54.1 million, or 63 cents per unit, on increased revenues from residential propane tanks.

Revenues were up 5.5 percent for the quarter to $560 million from $531 million.

“Our infrastructure was an advantage and helped us deliver on our commitments,” said chief executive officer Jerry E. Sheridan in a statement.

The company has increasingly looked to its size to win new customers and keep its prices low. Earlier this year, it acquired the propane operations of competitor Energy Transfer for $2.9 billion.

Despite the bump in sales, however, AmeriGas units have underperformed the market since 2012 due in part to the high cost of propane, which has cut into profit margins at the limited partnership.

“Risks to AmeriGas’ performance include warm weather and high propane prices, both of which damp demand,” said Mark Barnett, an analyst at Morningstar. “Exorbitant energy prices also increase the likelihood of customers becoming delinquent in their payments.”

Even with its major acquisition earlier in the year, the industry leader holds only a 15 percent market share in the highly fragmented propane market.

In New York Stock Exchange trading Thursday afternoon, AmeriGas units were trading down 4 cents at $45.73.