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AmeriGas Partners' first quarter profit falls 11%, but revenues top Street estimates

|Includes: AmeriGas Partners LP (APU)

Pennsylvania-based AmeriGas Partners, L.P. (NYSE: APU), a US retail propane distributor, reported on Wednesday that its first quarter profit slipped 11%, missing earnings estimates, while the company's revenues surpassed expectations.

For the quarter ending December 31, 2010, net income attributable to the limited partnership was $74.9 million, or $1.06 per share, compared with $84.0 million, or $1.15 per share, in the year-ago period. Analysts had expected earnings of $1.35 per share, according to Thomson Reuters.

Revenues, however, topped estimates of $685.4 million, as the company posted $700.2 million in sales for the quarter, up 7% from the prior year period. AmeriGas said this reflected higher average selling prices, which was partially offset by lower volumes sold.

The average wholesale cost of propane at Mont Belvieu, Texas for the first quarter was approximately 15% higher than the average cost in the same period last year.

During the quarter, the company sold 256.4 million gallons of retail propane, compared with retail propane volumes of 267.4 million gallons in the prior-year period. This was due to warmer weather and increasing conservation practices by customers, AmeriGas said.

"The heating season got off to a slow start due to exceptionally warm early fall weather...We also experienced more normal crop drying demand following a strong crop drying season in last year's quarter," said CEO Eugene V.N. Bissell.

AmeriGas serves approximately 1.3 million customers in all 50 US states from nearly 1,200 locations. UGI Corporation (NYSE:UGI), through subsidiaries, owns 44% of the limited partnership.