Sempra Energy's headquarters in downtown San Diego. Photo courtesy of Sempra
Sempra Energy’s headquarters in downtown San Diego. Photo courtesy of Sempra

San Diego-based Sempra Energy  on Friday reported double-digit increases in earnings for the fourth quarter of 2015 and the entire year despite the “operational challenge” of the Porter Ranch gas leak.

Sempra, the parent company of San Diego Gas & Electric and Southern California Gas, said the massive natural gas leak in the San Fernando Valley had been an operational challenge but was now permanently sealed.

“We are pleased SoCalGas was able to permanently stop the Aliso Canyon natural gas leak last week,” said Debra L. Reed, chairman and CEO. “Despite this operational challenge at SoCalGas, we produced strong financial results in 2015.”

The company earned $369 million, or $1.47 per share, in the fourth quarter, a 24 percent increase from the $297 million, or $1.18 per share, reported a year ago. Quarterly revenue fell slightly to $2.70 billion from $2.75 billion.

For the entire year, Sempra earned $1.35 billion, or $5.37 per share, up 16 percent from $1.16 billion, or $4.63 per share, in 2014. Revenue declined to $10.2 billion from $11.0 billion.

The results included one-time gains and charges totaling $40 million in connection with the shuttered San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station and sale of part of the Mesquite solar power facility in Arizona.

“We successfully grew operating earnings and outperformed our adjusted earnings guidance for the year,” Reed said. “Looking forward, our key capital projects and initiatives are progressing well, and we are executing our five-year financial plan, which we expect will generate earnings growth at about twice the utility industry average.”

The company said it expected to earn between $4.80 to $5.20 in 2016, a target that is below the 2015 results..

Last week, Sempra’s board of directors approved an 8 percent increase in the company’s annualized dividend to $3.02 per share from $2.80 per share.

The company’s stock was down 1 percent at $96.60 per share after the first hour of trading on Wall Street Friday.

Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.