Aqua America Rises After 2013 Profit Climbs Almost 13%

Aqua America Inc., the second-biggest publicly traded water utility in the U.S., rose to a 15-week high in New York trading after reporting net income advanced almost 13 percent last year to $221.3 million.

Aqua America expects to invest $1 billion in water-related infrastructure projects and pipe replacements in the next three years, the Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania-based company said late yesterday in a statement. It raised its dividend 9 percent and announced a 5-for-4 stock split that took effect Sept. 1, 2013.

Fourth-quarter profit was $57.5 million, almost 14 percent lower than the year-earlier period when a repair tax accounting change in the company’s Pennsylvania subsidiary “positively impacted” results, it reported. Aqua America completed 15 acquisitions in four states last year and “profitably divested the company’s unprofitable Florida operations,” it said.

“In 2014, we’re off to a strong start on our growth-through-acquisition strategy including an agreement with the city of Chicago Heights in Cook County, Illinois,” Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Nicholas DeBenedictis said in the statement.

Aqua America shares rose 1.5 percent to $25.19 at the close in New York, the highest since Nov. 11.