Las Vegas, NV-based Southwest Gas Corp. reported an unusual second-quarter net profit with net income of $3.7 million, or 9 cents/share, compared with a loss of $2.8 million, or 7 cents/share, for the same period in 2005. The second and third quarters traditionally are not profitable for the natural gas-only utility serving the mostly arid, warm weather parts of Nevada, Arizona and California’s eastern mountain/desert areas.

For the six-month period ended June 30, net income was $47.8 million, or $1.20/share, compared with $30 million, or 80 cents/share, for the first half of last year. Revenues continued to climb in both periods — $1.1 billion and $430 million for the first six months and second quarter, respectively, this year vs. $904 million and $361 million for the comparable periods, respectively, in 2005.

The second quarter this year benefited about 7 cents/share from a nonrecurring property tax settlement that was reached during the quarter, Southwest Gas said. A net profit of 2 cents/share would have been realized, excluding the tax settlement, the company said.

“This marks the first time in recent memory that we have recognized net income during the second quarter,” said Southwest CEO Jeffrey Shaw, who attributed the positive results to “higher operating margin and continued strong performance from our construction services subsidiary,” along with the tax settlement. “We optimistically anticipate a year of improved earnings results.”

During the last 12 months, Southwest Gas has added 80,000 customers, an increase of 5%, and for the second quarter it increased natural gas operating margin by $8 million, or 6%, compared to the margin in the second quarter of last year. Rate relief in the utility’s service territories added $9 million to operating margin, including $8 million in Arizona.

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