Form 10-K
Table of Contents

UNITED STATES

SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION

Washington, DC 20549

 


 

FORM 10-K

 


 

(Mark One)

x ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 or 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

 

For the fiscal year ended September 30, 2005

 

OR

 

¨ TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

 

For the transition period from              to             

 

Commission File Number: 001-14129

Commission File Number: 333-103873

 


 

STAR GAS PARTNERS, L.P.

STAR GAS FINANCE COMPANY

(Exact name of registrants as specified in its charters)

 


 

Delaware

Delaware

 

06-1437793

75-3094991

(State or other jurisdiction of

incorporation or organization)

 

(I.R.S. Employer

Identification No.)

2187 Atlantic Street, Stamford, Connecticut   06902
(Address of principal executive office)   (Zip Code)

 

(203) 328-7310

(Registrants’ telephone number, including area code)

 

Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:

 

Title of each class


 

Name of each exchange on which registered


Common Units   New York Stock Exchange
Senior Subordinated Units   New York Stock Exchange

 

Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act: None

 


 

Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act.    Yes  ¨    No  x.

 

Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or Section 15(d) of the Act.    Yes  ¨    No  x

 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days.    Yes  x    No  ¨

 

Indicate by check mark if disclosure of delinquent filers pursuant to Item 405 of Regulation S-K is not contained herein, and will not be contained, to the best of registrant’s knowledge, in definitive proxy or information statements incorporated by reference in Part III of this Form 10-K or any amendment to this Form 10-K.  ¨

 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is an accelerated filer (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Act).  x

 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act).    Yes  ¨    No  x

 

The aggregate market value of Star Gas Partners, L.P. Common Units held by non-affiliates of Star Gas Partners, L.P. on March 31, 2005 was approximately $102,477,000. As of December 8, 2005, the registrants had units and shares outstanding for each of the issuers’ classes of common stock as follows:

 

Star Gas Partners, L.P.    Common Units    32,165,528
Star Gas Partners, L.P.    Senior Subordinated Units    3,391,982
Star Gas Partners, L.P.    Junior Subordinated Units    345,364
Star Gas Partners, L.P.    General Partner Units    325,729
Star Gas Finance Company    Common Shares    100

 

Documents Incorporated by Reference: None

 



Table of Contents

STAR GAS PARTNERS, L.P.

 

2005 FORM 10-K ANNUAL REPORT

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

          Page

     PART I     

Item 1.

  

Business

   3

Item 1A.

  

Risk Factors

   12

Item 1B.

  

Unresolved Staff Comments

   18

Item 2.

  

Properties

   19

Item 3.

  

Legal Proceedings - Litigation

   20

Item 4.

  

Submission of Matters to a Vote of Security Holders

   20
     PART II     

Item 5.

  

Market for the Registrant’s Units and Related Matters

   21

Item 6.

  

Selected Historical Financial and Operating Data

   23

Item 7.

  

Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations

   25

Item 7A.

  

Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures about Market Risk

   48

Item 8.

  

Financial Statements and Supplementary Data

   48

Item 9.

  

Changes in and Disagreements with Accountants on Accounting and Financial Disclosure

   48

Item 9A.

  

Controls and Procedures

   48

Item 9B.

  

Other Information

   49
     PART III     

Item 10.

  

Directors and Executive Officers of the Registrant

   50

Item 11.

  

Executive Compensation

   53

Item 12.

  

Security Ownership of Certain Beneficial Owners and Management

   57

Item 13.

  

Certain Relationships and Related Transactions

   59

Item 14.

  

Principal Accounting Fees and Services

   59
     PART IV     

Item 15.

  

Exhibits and Financial Statement Schedules

   60

 

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Table of Contents

PART I

 

ITEM 1. BUSINESS

 

Statement Regarding Forward-Looking Disclosure

 

This Annual Report on Form 10-K includes “forward-looking statements” which represent our expectations or beliefs concerning future events that involve risks and uncertainties, including those associated with the recapitalization, the effect of weather conditions, on our financial performance, the price and supply of home heating oil, the consumption patterns of our customers, our ability to obtain satisfactory gross profit margins, our ability to obtain new accounts and retain existing accounts, our ability to effect strategic acquisitions or redeploy assets, the ultimate disposition of Excess Proceeds from the sale of the propane segment, the impact of litigation, the impact of the business process redesign project at the heating oil segment and our ability to address issues related to that project, our ability to contract for our future supply needs, natural gas conversions, future union relations and outcome of current union negotiations, the impact of future environmental, health, and safety regulations, customer credit worthiness, and marketing plans. All statements other than statements of historical facts included in this Report including, without limitation, the statements under “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” and elsewhere herein, are forward-looking statements. Although we believe that the expectations reflected in such forward-looking statements are reasonable, we can give no assurance that such expectations will prove to have been correct and actual results may differ materially from those projected as a result of certain risks and uncertainties. These risks and uncertainties include, but are not limited to, those set forth under the heading “Risk Factors,” “Business Initiatives and Strategy,” and “Business Outlook Fiscal 2006.” Without limiting the foregoing the words “believe”, “anticipate”, “plan”, “expect”, “seek”, “estimate” and similar expressions are intended to identify forward-looking statements. Important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from our expectations (“Cautionary Statements”) are disclosed in this Annual Report on Form 10-K. All subsequent written and oral forward-looking statements attributable to the Partnership or persons acting on its behalf are expressly qualified in their entirety by the Cautionary Statements. Unless otherwise required by law, we undertake no obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise after the date of this Report.

 

Structure

 

Star Gas Partners, L.P. (“Star Gas,” the “Partnership,” “we,” “us,” or “our,”) is a home heating oil distributor and services provider. Star Gas is a master limited partnership, which at September 30, 2005 had outstanding 32.2 million common units (NYSE: “SGU” representing an 88.8% limited partner interest in Star Gas) and 3.4 million senior subordinated units (NYSE: “SGH” representing a 9.4% limited partner interest in Star Gas). Additional Partnership interests include 0.3 million junior subordinated units (representing a 0.9% limited partner interest) and 0.3 million general partner units (representing a 0.9% general partner interest).

 

The Partnership is organized as follows:

 

    The general partner of the Partnership is Star Gas LLC, a Delaware limited liability company. The Board of Directors of Star Gas LLC is appointed by its members. Star Gas LLC’s general partner interest represents approximately a 1% interest in the Partnership.

 

    The Partnership’s heating oil operations (the “heating oil segment”, “Petro,” “we,” “us,” or “our”) are conducted through Petro Holdings, Inc. and its subsidiaries. Petro is a Minnesota corporation that is an indirect wholly owned subsidiary of Star/Petro, Inc., which is a 99.99% subsidiary of the Partnership. The remaining .01% equity interest in Star/Petro, Inc. is owned by Star Gas LLC. Petro is a retail distributor of home heating oil and as of September 30, 2005 served approximately 480,000 customers in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions.

 

    Star Gas Finance Company is a direct wholly owned subsidiary of the Partnership. Star Gas Finance Company serves as the co-issuer, jointly and severally with the Partnership, of the Partnership’s $265 million 10 1/4% Senior Notes, which are due in 2013. The Partnership is dependent on distributions, including intercompany interest payments from its subsidiaries, to service the Partnership’s debt obligations. The distributions from the Partnership’s subsidiaries are not guaranteed and are subject to certain loan restrictions. Star Gas Finance Company has nominal assets and conducts no business operations.

 

We were formerly engaged in the retail distribution of propane and related supplies and equipment to residential and commercial customers in the Midwest and Northeast regions of the United States, Florida and Georgia (the “propane segment”). In December 2004, we completed the sale of all of our interests in the propane segment to Inergy Propane, LLC (“Inergy”) for a purchase price of $481.3 million. We recorded a gain on this sale of approximately $157 million.

 

We file annual, quarterly, current and other reports and information with the SEC. These filings can be viewed and downloaded from the Internet at the SEC’s website at www.sec.gov. In addition, these SEC filings are available at no cost as soon as reasonably practicable after the filing thereof on our website at www.star-gas.com/Edgar.cfm. These reports are also available to be read and copied at the SEC’s public reference room located at Judiciary Plaza, 450 5th Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20549. The public may obtain information on the operation of the public reference room by calling the SEC at 1-800-SEC-0330. You may also obtain copies of these filings and other information at the offices of the New York Stock Exchange located at 11 Wall Street, New York, New York 10005.

 

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Table of Contents

Summary of Significant Events and Developments

 

    Sale of propane segment

 

    New Credit Facility

 

    Unitholder suit

 

    Goodwill Write-down

 

    MLP Notes

 

    Departure of Chairman and CEO

 

    Home Heating Oil Price Volatility

 

    Customer attrition

 

    Recapitalization

 

Sale of propane segment

 

In December 2004 we completed the sale of our propane segment to Inergy for a cash purchase price of $481.3 million and recognized a gain of approximately $157 million from the sale after closing costs of approximately $14 million. $311 million of the proceeds from the sale were used to repurchase senior secured notes and first mortgage notes of the heating oil segment and propane segment, together with associated prepayment premiums, accrued interest and the amounts then outstanding under the propane segment’s working capital facility. Our propane segment represented approximately 24% and 20% of our total revenue in fiscal 2004 and 2003, respectively, and 64% of our operating income in each of fiscal 2004 and 2003, respectively. The historical results of the propane segment are reflected as discontinued operations in our consolidated financial statements.

 

New Credit Facility

 

On December 17, 2004 we executed a new $260 million revolving credit facility with a group of lenders led by J.P. Morgan Chase Bank, N.A. This new facility provides us the ability to borrow up to $260 million for working capital purposes (subject to certain borrowing base limitations and coverage ratios) and replaced the heating oil segment’s existing $235 million credit facility. Fees and expenses totaling approximately $8.0 million were incurred in connection with consummating the new facility. On November 3, 2005, the revolving credit facility was amended to increase the facility size by $50 million to $310 million for the peak winter months from December through March of each year. Obligations under the new revolving credit facility are secured by liens on substantially all of the assets of the Partnership, the heating oil segment and its subsidiaries.

 

Unitholder Suit

 

In October 2004, a purported class action lawsuit was filed against the Partnership and various subsidiaries and current and former officers and directors. Subsequently, 16 additional class action complaints alleging the same or substantially similar claims were filed in the same district court. The complaints generally allege that the Partnership violated sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended. The court has consolidated the class action complaints and appointed a lead plaintiff. On September 23, 2005 we filed motions to dismiss. Plaintiffs replied to these motions on November 23, 2005 and we expect to file our reply briefs on or about December 20, 2005. In the interim, discovery in the matter remains stayed. We intend to continue to defend against this purported class action lawsuit vigorously.

 

Goodwill Write-down

 

During the second quarter of fiscal 2005, we incurred a non-cash goodwill impairment charge of $67 million at the heating oil segment as a result of triggering events that occurred during the second quarter of fiscal 2005. These triggering events included a significant decline in our unit price and the determination that operating results for fiscal year 2005 would be significantly lower than previously expected.

 

MLP Notes

 

In accordance with the terms of the indenture relating to the Partnership’s 10 1/4% Senior Notes (“MLP Notes”), we are permitted, within 360 days of the sale, to apply the net proceeds (the “Net Proceeds”) of the sale of the propane segment either to reduce indebtedness (and reduce any related commitment) of the Partnership or of a restricted subsidiary, or to make an investment in assets or capital expenditures useful to the business of the Partnership or any of its subsidiaries as in effect on the issue date of the MLP Notes (the “Issue Date”) or any business related, ancillary or complementary to any of the businesses of the Partnership on the Issue Date (each a “Permitted Use” and collectively the “Permitted Uses”). To the extent any Net Proceeds that are not so applied exceed $10 million (“Excess Proceeds”), the indenture requires us to make an offer to all holders of MLP Notes to purchase for cash that number of MLP Notes that may be purchased with Excess Proceeds at a purchase price equal to 100% of the principal amount of the MLP Notes plus accrued and unpaid interest to the date of purchase. At September 30, 2005, Excess Proceeds totaled $93.2 million. As of December 2, 2005 all Excess Proceeds were applied toward a Permitted Use. See “Recapitalization” below and “Risk Factors—If our use of the net proceeds from the sale of the propane segment does not comply with the terms of the Indenture for the MLP Notes we may be subject to liability to the note holders, which could have a material adverse effect on us.”

 

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Table of Contents

Departure of Chairman and CEO

 

On March 7, 2005 (“the Termination Date”), Star Gas LLC and Mr. Irik P. Sevin entered into a letter agreement and general release (the “Agreement”). In accordance with the Agreement, Mr. Sevin resigned from employment as the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer and President of Star Gas LLC (and its subsidiaries) under the employment agreement between Mr. Sevin and Star Gas LLC dated as of September 30, 2001. In addition, under terms of the Agreement Mr. Sevin transferred his member interests in Star Gas LLC to a voting trust of which Mr. Sevin is one of three trustees. Under the terms of the voting trust, those interests will be voted in accordance with the decision of a majority of the trustees. Pursuant to the Agreement, Mr. Sevin is entitled to an annual consulting fee totaling $395,000 for a period of five years following the Termination Date. In addition, the Agreement provides for Mr. Sevin to receive a retirement benefit equal to $350,000 per year for a 13-year period beginning with the month following the five-year anniversary of the Termination Date. At March 31, 2005, we recorded a liability for $4.2 million, which represents the present value of the cost of the Agreement.

 

Home Heating Oil Price Volatility

 

The wholesale price of heating oil, like any other market commodity, is generally set by the economic forces of supply and demand. Rapid global expansion is fueling an ever-increasing demand for oil. Home heating oil prices are closely linked to the price refiners pay for crude oil because crude oil is the principal cost component of home heating oil. Crude oil is bought and sold in the international marketplace and as such is subject to the economic forces of supply and demand worldwide. The United States imports more than 60% of the petroleum products it consumes. The wholesale cost of home heating oil as measured by the New York Mercantile Exchange (“Nymex”) at September 30, 2005, 2004 and 2003 was $2.06, $1.39 and $0.78, respectively

 

The current marketplace for petroleum products including home heating oil has been extremely volatile. In a volatile market even small changes in supply or demand can dramatically affect prices. The changes we have seen this past year and continue to experience have been significant. Heating oil prices are subject to price fluctuations if demand rises sharply because of excessively cold weather and/or disruptions at refineries and instability in key oil producing regions. Ultimately these increases in wholesale prices are, in most instances, borne by our customers. Because of these high prices we have experienced increased attrition in our customer base and a decrease in heating oil volume sold per customer (“conservation”). For fiscal 2005, over 75% of our revenue is attributable to the retail sale and delivery of home heating oil. About half of our retail sales of home heating oil are to customers who agree to pay a fixed or maximum price per gallon for each delivery over the next 12 months (“protected price” customers). The remaining retail sales are to customers that pay a variable price based principally on the daily spot price plus our profit margin.

 

We mitigate our exposure to our price protected customers in a volatile market by hedging our fixed and maximum price sales through the purchase of exchange traded options and futures, and over the counter options and swaps, and we mitigate our exposure to variable priced customers, in most instances, by passing through higher home heating oil costs directly to such customers.

 

Customer Attrition

 

We experienced net customer attrition of 7.1% in fiscal 2005. This compares to net attrition of 6.4% and 1.5% in fiscal 2004 and 2003, respectively. This increase in net customer attrition over the past two years can be attributed to: (i) a combination of the effect of our premium service/premium price strategy during a period when customer price sensitivity increased due to high energy prices; (ii) our decision in fiscal 2005 to maintain reasonable profit margins going forward in spite of competitors aggressive pricing tactics; (iii) the lag effect of customer attrition related to service and delivery problems experienced by customers in prior fiscal years; (iv) continued customer dissatisfaction with the centralization of customer care; and (v) tightened customer credit standards. For the period from October 1 to November 30, 2004, we gained 530 accounts (net), or 0.1% of our home heating oil customer base as compared to the period from October 1 to November 30, 2005 in which we lost 4,315 accounts (net), or 0.9% of our customer base.

 

Recapitalization

 

On December 2, 2005 the board of directors of Star Gas LLC approved a strategic recapitalization of Star Gas Partners that, if approved by unitholders and completed, would result in a reduction in the outstanding amount of our 10 1/4% Senior Notes due 2013 (“Senior Notes”), of between approximately $87 million and $100 million.

 

The recapitalization includes a commitment by Kestrel Energy Partners, LLC (or “Kestrel”) and its affiliates to purchase $15 million of new equity capital and provide a standby commitment in a $35 million rights offering to our common unitholders, at a price of $2.00 per common unit. We would utilize the $50 million in new equity financing, together with an additional $10 million to $23.1 million from operations, to repurchase at least $60 million in face amount of our Senior Notes and, at our option, up to approximately $73.1 million of Senior Notes. In addition, certain noteholders have agreed to convert approximately $26.9 million in face amount of such notes into newly issued common units at a conversion price of $2.00 per unit in connection with the closing of the recapitalization.

 

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Table of Contents

We have entered into agreements with the holders of approximately 94% in principal amount of our Senior Notes which provide that: the noteholders commit to, and will, tender their Senior Notes at par (i) for a pro rata portion of $60 million or, at our option, up to approximately $73.1 million in cash, (ii) in exchange for approximately 13,434,000 new common units at a conversion price of $2.00 per unit (which new units would be acquired by exchanging approximately $26.9 million in face amount of Senior Notes) and (iii) in exchange for new notes representing the remaining face amount of the tendered notes. The principle terms of the new senior notes such as the term and interest rate are the same as the Senior Notes. The closing of the tender offer is conditioned upon the closing of the transactions under the Kestrel unit purchase agreement, which is discussed below. Upon closing the transaction we will incur a gain or loss on the exchange of Senior Notes for common units based on the difference between the $2.00 per unit conversion price and the fair value per unit represented by the per unit price in the open market on the conversion date.

 

Subject to and until the transaction closing, the noteholders have agreed not to accelerate indebtedness due under the senior notes or initiate any litigation or proceeding with respect to the Senior Notes. The noteholders have further agreed to: waive any default under the indenture; not to tender the Senior Notes in the change of control offer which will be required to be made following the closing of the transactions under the unit purchase agreement with Kestrel; and to consent to certain amendments to the existing indenture. The agreement with the noteholders further provides for the termination of its provisions in the event that the Kestrel unit purchase agreement is no longer in effect. The understandings and agreements contemplated by these transactions will terminate if the transaction does not close prior to April 30, 2006.

 

We believe the proposed recapitalization would substantially strengthen our balance sheet and thereby assist us in meeting our liquidity and capital requirements, which we believe would improve our future financial performance and as a result enhance unitholder value. In addition to enhancing unitholder value, we believe we will be able to operate more efficiently going forward with less long-term debt.

 

As part of the recapitalization transaction, we have entered into a definitive unit purchase agreement with Kestrel and its affiliates, which provides for, among other things: the receipt by us of $50 million in new equity financing through the issuance to Kestrel’s affiliates of 7,500,000 common units at $2.00 per unit for an aggregate of $15 million and the issuance of an additional 17,500,000 common units in a rights offering to our common unitholders at an exercise price of $2.00 per unit for an aggregate of $35 million. The rights will be non-transferable, and an affiliate of Kestrel has agreed to buy any common units not subscribed for in the rights offering. Under the terms of the unit purchase agreement, Kestrel Heat, LLC, or Kestrel Heat, a wholly owned subsidiary of Kestrel, will become our new general partner and Star Gas LLC, our current general partner, will receive no consideration for its removal as general partner.

 

In addition, the unit purchase agreement provides for the adoption of a second amended and restated agreement of limited partnership that will, among other matters:

 

    provide for the mandatory conversion of each outstanding senior subordinated unit and junior subordinated unit into one common unit;

 

    change the minimum quarterly distribution to the common units from $0.575 per quarter, or $2.30 per year, to $0.0675 per unit, or $0.27 per year, which shall commence accruing October 1, 2008 and, eliminate all previously accrued cumulative distribution arrearages which aggregated $92.5 million at November 30, 2005;

 

    suspend all distributions of available cash by us through the fiscal quarter ending September 30, 2008;

 

    reallocate the incentive distribution rights so that, commencing October 1, 2008, the new general partner units in the aggregate will be entitled to receive 10% of the available cash distributed once $.0675 per quarter, or $0.27 per year, has been distributed to common units and general partner units and 20% of the available cash distributed in excess of $0.1125 per quarter, or $.45 per year, provided there are no arrearages in minimum quarterly distributions at the time of such distribution (under our current partnership agreement if quarterly distributions of available cash exceed certain target levels, the senior subordinated units, junior subordinated units and general partner units would receive an increased percentage of distributions, resulting in their receiving a greater amount on a per unit basis than the common units).

 

The recapitalization is subject to certain closing conditions including the approval of our unitholders, approval of the lenders under our revolving credit facility, and the successful completion of the tender offer for our Senior Notes.

 

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As a result of the challenging financial and operating conditions that we have experienced since fiscal 2004, we have not been able to generate sufficient available cash from operations to pay the minimum quarterly distribution of $0.575 per unit on our partnership securities. These conditions led to the suspension of distributions on our senior subordinated units, junior subordinated units and general partner units on July 29, 2004 and to the suspension of distributions on the common units on October 18, 2004.

 

We believe that the proposed amendments to our partnership agreement will simplify our capital structure, provide internally generated funds for future investment and align the minimum quarterly distribution more closely with the levels of available cash from operations that we expect to generate in the future.

 

Kestrel is a private equity investment firm formed by Yorktown Energy Partners VI, L.P., Paul A. Vermylen, Jr. and other investors. Yorktown Energy Partners VI, L.P. is a New York-based private equity investment partnership, which makes investments in companies engaged in the energy industry. Yorktown affiliates and Mr. Vermylen were investors in Meenan Oil Co. L.P. from 1983 to 2001, during which time Mr. Vermylen served as President of Meenan. Meenan was sold to us in 2001.

 

It is possible that the units purchased as part of the recapitalization transaction or units purchased by one or more than one 5% unitholders would trigger an IRC Section 382 limitation relating to certain net operating loss carryforwards. An ownership change occurs for purposes of Section 382 when there is a direct or indirect sale or exchange of more than 50% by one or more than one 5% shareholders. If an ownership change has occurred in accordance with Section 382, future limitations in the utilization of net operating losses could be significant. It is possible that the Partnership’s subsidiary, Star/Petro, Inc., will not be able to use any of its currently existing net income tax loss carryforwards in the future.

 

Business Overview

 

As of September 30, 2005 we serviced approximately 480,000 customers from locations in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions. We are the largest retail distributor of home heating oil in the United States. In addition to selling home heating oil we install, maintain and repair heating and air conditioning equipment. To a limited extent, we also market other petroleum products including diesel fuel and gasoline to commercial customers. During fiscal 2005, the total sales in the heating oil segment were comprised of approximately 75% from sales of home heating oil; 15% from the installation and repair of heating equipment; and 10% from the sale of other petroleum products. We provide home heating equipment repair service 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 52 weeks a year. These services are an integral part of our heating oil business, and are intended to maximize customer satisfaction and loyalty. We also regularly provide various incentives to obtain and retain customers. We have consolidated our heating oil operations under two primary brand names, Petro and Meenan.

 

In fiscal 2005, sales to residential customers represented 84% of the retail heating oil gallons sold and 92% of heating oil gross profits.

 

We have operations and markets in the following states:

 

New York   Massachusetts   New Jersey

Bronx, Queens and Kings Counties

Dutchess County

Staten Island

Eastern Long Island

Western Long Island

Westchester/Putnam Counties

Orange County

 

Boston (Metropolitan)

Northeastern Massachusetts

(Centered in Lawrence)

Worcester

 

Camden

Lakewood

Newark (Metropolitan)

North Brunswick

Rockaway

Trenton

   
   
   
     
  Pennsylvania  
 

Allentown

Berks County

Bucks County

Harrisburg County

Lancaster County

Lebanon County

Philadelphia

York County

   
      Rhode Island
Connecticut    

Providence

Newport

Bridgeport—New Haven

Fairfield County

Litchfield County

   
     
    Maryland/Virginia/D.C.
     

Arlington

Baltimore

Washington, D.C. (Metropolitan)

     
       

 

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Industry Characteristics

 

Heating oil is primarily used for residential and commercial heating purposes, and it is a significant source of fuel used to heat businesses and residences in the New England and Mid-Atlantic regions. According to the U.S. Department of Energy—Energy Information Administration, 2001 Residential Energy Consumption Survey, these regions account for approximately 77% of the households in the United States where heating oil is the main space-heating fuel. Approximately 31% of the homes in these regions use heating oil as their main space-heating fuel. In recent years, as the price of home heating oil increased, customers tended to increase their conservation efforts, which decreased their consumption of home heating oil. In addition, weather conditions have a significant impact on demand for home heating oil for heating purposes.

 

The retail home heating oil industry is mature, with total market demand expected to decline slightly in the foreseeable future. Therefore, our ability to grow within the industry is dependent on our ability to acquire other retail distributors as well as the success of our marketing programs designed to attract and retain customers to help offset customer losses. We believe that the home heating oil industry is relatively stable and predictable due principally to the non-discretionary nature of home heating oil use. Accordingly, the demand for home heating oil has historically been relatively unaffected by general economic conditions but has been affected by weather conditions and most recently a very volatile commodity market. It is common practice in the home heating oil distribution industry to price products to customers based on a per gallon margin over wholesale costs. As a result, we believe distributors such as ourselves generally seek to maintain their margins by passing wholesale price increases through to customers, thus insulating themselves from the volatility in wholesale heating oil prices. However, during periods of significant fluctuations in wholesale prices, which currently exists and occurred throughout fiscal 2005, distributors may be unable or unwilling to pass the entire product cost increases or decreases through to customers. In these cases, significant increases or decreases in per gallon margins may result. In addition, the timing of cost pass-throughs can significantly affect margins. The retail home heating oil industry is highly fragmented, characterized by a large number of relatively small, independently owned and operated local distributors. In addition, the industry is becoming more complex and costly due to increasing environmental regulations.

 

Business initiatives and strategy

 

Prior to the fiscal 2004 winter heating season, we attempted to develop a competitive advantage in customer service through a business process redesign project and, as part of that effort, centralized our heating equipment service and oil dispatch functions and engaged a centralized customer care center to fulfill our telephone requirements for a majority of our home heating oil customers. We experienced significant difficulties in advancing this initiative during fiscal 2004 and 2005, which adversely impacted our customer base and costs. To date, the customers’ experience has been below the level associated with other premium service providers and below the level of service provided by the heating oil segment in prior years which we believe contributed to increased customer attrition in fiscal 2004 and 2005 The savings from this initiative were less than expected and the costs to operate under the centralized format were greater than originally estimated.

 

We believe we have identified the problems associated with the centralization efforts and continue to address these issues by structuring the customer call center into work groups that parallel Petro’s district structure, adding customer service specialists at the district level, providing continuous in-house training at the customer care center, and establishing a general manager of customer retention. In addition, we have begun answering customer calls locally in two districts. We are continuing our initiative of moving toward decentralization of our operations to maximize contact at the local level, while continuing to assess the efficiency of certain centralized operations. The general manager of customer retention reports directly to the President and Chief Operating Officer of the Partnership. Despite these efforts, we continued to experience high net attrition rates in fiscal 2005, and we expect that high net attrition rates may continue through fiscal 2006 and perhaps beyond. Even to the extent that the rate of attrition can be reduced, the current reduced customer base will adversely impact net income in the future.

 

The quantitative factors we use to measure the effectiveness of our customer care center and field operations – such as customer satisfaction scores, telephone waiting times and abandonment rates at the customer care center, oil delivery run-outs and heating equipment repair and maintenance response times – have improved meaningfully during fiscal 2005, as compared to the same period in fiscal 2004.

 

We implemented a series of cost reduction initiatives in fiscal 2005 including facility consolidations, the reduction of non-essential personnel and the reduction and re-evaluation of certain marketing programs. We believe this will be an ongoing process as we continue to review our operating expenses. We believe operating expenses were reduced by approximately $10.0 million, on an annualized basis, in 2005. A portion of these expense reductions were realized during fiscal 2005 and the remainder will be realized in fiscal 2006. In addition, a wage freeze has been implemented for senior management in fiscal 2006.

 

Going forward our strategy is to increase unit-holder value through (i) internal growth, (ii) operational efficiencies and productivity improvements, (iii) increased market share through strategic and disciplined acquisitions of local heating oil distributors, and (iv) strategic recapitalization of our long-term debt.

 

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We believe opportunities exist to add customers internally in order to help offset customer losses through strategic marketing programs designed to retain existing customers and attract new customers through renewed focus on our sales and marketing efforts, with strong local and regional direction combined with employee incentive programs. We utilize advertising campaigns such as radio advertisements, billboards, newsprint, and telephone directory advertisements to increase brand recognition. We also engage in direct marketing campaigns and advertising on the Internet.

 

We intend to continue to merge operations and functions where overlaps exist and intend to divest and/or redeploy under-performing operations and assets. In addition, we do not intend to reduce our retail prices to unreasonably low levels to customers, and intend to retain our profit margins in spite of our competitors’ aggressive pricing tactics.

 

We plan to expand our customer base through strategic and disciplined acquisitions of local heating oil distributors. We intend to focus on acquisitions that can be efficiently operated individually or combined with our existing operations. Under the terms of our revolving credit facility, we were restricted from making any acquisitions prior to June 17, 2005. Thereafter there are limitations on the size of individual acquisitions and an annual limitation on total acquisitions. In addition, there are certain financial tests that must be satisfied before an acquisition can be consummated. We may not be able to satisfy these tests with our current levels of debt and interest expense.

 

On December 2, 2005 the board of directors of Star Gas approved a strategic recapitalization of the Partnership. The recapitalization includes a commitment Kestrel and its affiliates to purchase $15 million of new equity capital and provide a standby commitment in a $35 million rights offering to our common unitholders, at a price of $2.00 per common unit. The recapitalization is subject to certain closing conditions including the approval of our unitholders, approval of the lenders under our revolving credit facility, and the successful completion of the tender offer for our senior notes. See “Recapitalization.”

 

We would utilize the $50 million in new equity financing, together with an additional $10 million up to $23.1 million from operations, to repurchase at least $60 million in face amount of our senior notes and at our option, up to $73.1 million of senior notes. In addition, certain noteholders have agreed to convert approximately $26.9 million in face amount of such notes into 13,434,000 newly issued common units.

 

We believe the proposed recapitalization would substantially strengthen our balance sheet and thereby assist us in meeting our liquidity and capital requirements, which we believe will improve our future financial performance and as a result enhance unitholder value. In addition to enhancing unitholder value, we believe we will be able to operate more efficiently going forward with less long-term debt.

 

Customers

 

Our customer base is comprised of three types of customers, residential variable, residential protected price and commercial/industrial. The residential variable customer generally has the highest per gallon gross profit margin.

 

During fiscal 2005, approximately 86% of heating oil sales were made to homeowners, with the remainder to industrial, commercial and institutional customers. Sales to residential customers ordinarily generate higher margins than sales to other customer groups, such as commercial customers. Due to the greater price sensitivity of residential protected price customers, the per gallon margins realized from these customers generally are less than variable priced residential customers. Commercial/industrial customers are characterized as large volume users and contribute the lowest per gallon margin. Gross profit margins can also vary by geographic region. Accordingly, gross profit margins could vary significantly from year to year in a period of identical sales volumes.

 

For fiscal 2004 and fiscal 2005, approximately 43% and 48%, respectively, of home heating oil sold was to customers who had agreements establishing a fixed or maximum price per gallon that they would pay for home heating oil over the following 12-month period. This percentage could increase or decrease during fiscal 2006 based upon market conditions. The fixed or maximum price per gallon at which home heating oil is sold to these protected price customers is generally renegotiated based on current market conditions before the beginning of each heating season. In addition during the fourth quarter of fiscal 2005, and to date in fiscal 2006 we decided not to reduce our retail prices (including those prices included in our protected price contracts) to customers in order to maintain our product margins in spite of our competitors aggressive pricing tactics. At September 30, 2005, 37.5% of our home heating oil customers had a price protection plan compared to 47.7% at September 30, 2004.

 

Customers that have not yet renewed their price protected program for the next season could switch to a competitor and customer attrition in the future could increase. We purchase derivative instruments (futures, options, collars and swaps) in order to hedge a substantial majority of the heating oil we expect to sell to protected price customers that have renewed their price plans for the following twelve months, mitigating our exposure to changing commodity prices.

 

As of September 30, 2005, approximately 93% of our home heating oil customers received their home heating oil under an automatic delivery system without the customer having to make an affirmative purchase decision. These deliveries are scheduled based upon

 

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each customer’s historical consumption patterns and prevailing weather conditions. We deliver home heating oil approximately six times during the year to the average customer. Our practice is to bill customers promptly after delivery. Approximately 36% of our customers are on a budget payment plan, whereby their estimated annual oil purchases and service contract are paid for in a series of equal monthly payments.

 

Approximately 7% of our home heating oil customers consist of accounts that from time to time call to schedule a delivery rather than receiving a delivery on an automatic basis. These accounts actively manage their consumption and are referred to as “will call” customers. We believe that we have experienced a decline in home heating oil volume sales to these will call customers. This decline may be due to conservation or their decision to purchase all or a portion of their heating oil requirements from another dealer.

 

We experienced annual net customer attrition of approximately 7.1% in fiscal 2005. The net customer attrition rate in fiscal 2005 was higher than the rate experienced in fiscal 2004 (6.4%), and higher than that experienced in the preceding several years. For fiscal 2003, before the full implementation of the business process redesign project and before the increase in the wholesale price of home heating oil, we experienced annual net customer attrition of 1.5%. Net customer attrition for the fiscal years’ 2005 and 2004 resulted from: (i) a combination of the effect of our premium service/premium price strategy when customer price sensitivity increased due to high energy prices; (ii) our decision in fiscal 2005 to maintain reasonable profit margins going forward in spite of competitors aggressive pricing tactics; (iii) the lag effect of customer attrition related to service and delivery problems experienced by customers in prior fiscal years; (iv) continued customer dissatisfaction with the centralization of customer care; and (v) tightened customer credit standards. For the period from October 1 to November 30, 2004, we gained 530 accounts (net) or 0.1% of our home heating oil customer base as compared to the period from October 1 to November 30, 2005 in which we lost 4,315 accounts (net) or 0.9% of our customer base.

 

Net customer attrition is the difference between gross customer losses and customers added through marketing efforts. Customers added through acquisitions are not included in the calculation of net customer attrition. For fiscal 2004 and 2005, gross customer losses were approximately 19.5% and 20.0%, respectively, and gross customer gains were approximately 13.1% and 12.9%, respectively. The gain of a new customer does not fully compensate for the loss of an existing customer during the first year because of the expenses that are incurred to acquire a new customer and the higher attrition rate associated with new customers. It costs on average $500 to acquire a new customer.

 

Gross customer losses are the result of a number of factors, including move-outs, price competition and service issues.

 

When a customer moves out of an existing home, we count the “move out” as a loss. If we are successful in signing up the new homeowner, the “move in” is treated as a gain. For fiscal 2004 and 2005, move outs were 6.4% and 6.9%, respectively, of our customer base and the move ins were 3.6% and 3.2%, respectively, of our customer base.

 

Suppliers and Supply Arrangements

 

We purchase fuel oil for delivery in either barge, pipeline or truckload quantities, and have contracts with over 100 terminals for the right to temporarily store heating oil at facilities we do not own. Purchases are made under supply contracts or on the spot market. We enter into market price based contracts for a substantial majority of our petroleum requirements with eight different suppliers, the majority of which have significant domestic sources for their product, and many of which have been suppliers to the heating oil segment for over ten years. Our current contract suppliers are: BP North America, Citgo Petroleum Corporation, Global Companies, Inland Fuels Terminals, Inc., Mieco, Inc., NIC Holding Corp., Sprague Energy and Sunoco, Inc. Supply contracts typically have terms of 12 months. All of the supply contracts provide for maximum and in certain cases minimum quantities and require advance payment. In prior years our supply contracts provided us with two-to-three-day credit terms. Since last year our suppliers are now requiring pre-payment. In most cases the supply contracts do not establish in advance the price of fuel oil. This price is based upon spot market prices at the time of delivery plus a differential of up to $.045 per gallon. We believe that our policy of contracting for the majority of our anticipated supply needs with diverse and reliable sources will enable us to obtain sufficient product should unforeseen shortages develop in worldwide supplies. We believe that relations with current suppliers are satisfactory.

 

We purchase derivative instruments including commodity swaps and options, traded on the over-the-counter financial markets, and futures and options traded on the New York Mercantile Exchange in order to mitigate our exposure to market risk and hedge the cash flow variability associated with the purchase of home heating oil inventory held for resale to our protected price customers and in some cases physical inventory on hand and in transit. At September 30, 2005 we had outstanding derivative instruments with the following banks or brokers: JPMorgan Chase Bank, NA, Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, BP North America Petroleum and Fimat.

 

Competition

 

We compete with distributors offering a broad range of services and prices, from full-service distributors, like ourselves, to those offering delivery only. Our competitors typically offer lower prices. Like many companies in the home heating oil business, we provide home heating equipment repair service on a 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week, 52 weeks a year basis. This tends to build customer loyalty. As a result of these factors, it is difficult for us to increase our market share, other than through acquisitions. In some

 

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instances homeowners have formed buying cooperatives that seek to purchase fuel oil from distributors at a price lower than individual customers are otherwise able to obtain. We also compete for retail customers with suppliers of alternative energy products, principally natural gas, propane, and electricity. The rate of conversion from the use of home heating oil to natural gas is primarily affected by the relative retail prices of the two products and the cost of replacing an oil fired heating system with one that uses natural gas, in addition to environmental concerns. We believe that approximately 1% of the home heating oil customer base annually converts from home heating oil to natural gas. The expansion of natural gas into traditional home heating oil markets in the Northeast has historically been inhibited by the capital costs required to expand distribution and pipeline systems.

 

Most of our retail home heating oil distribution locations compete with several smaller marketers or distributors, primarily on the basis of reliability of service, price, and response to customer needs. Each retail distribution location operates in its own competitive environment because home heating oil distributors and marketers typically reside in close proximity to their customers in order to minimize the cost of providing service.

 

Seasonality

 

Our fiscal year ends on September 30. All references to quarters and years in this document are to fiscal quarters and years unless otherwise noted. The seasonal nature of our business results in the sale of approximately 30% of our volume in the first quarter (October through December) and 45% of our volume in the second quarter (January through March) of each year, the peak heating season, because heating oil is primarily used for space heating in residential and commercial buildings. We generally realize net income in both of these quarters and net losses during the quarters ending in June and September. In addition, sales volume typically fluctuates from year to year in response to variations in weather, wholesale energy prices and other factors.

 

Acquisitions

 

In fiscal 2004, we completed the purchase of three retail heating oil dealers for an aggregate cost of $3.5 million. We made no acquisitions in fiscal 2005. Under the terms of our revolving credit facility, we were restricted from making any acquisitions prior to June 17, 2005. Thereafter there are limitations on the size of individual acquisitions and an annual limitation on total acquisitions. In addition, there are certain financial tests that must be satisfied before an acquisition can be consummated. We may not be able to satisfy these tests with our current levels of debt and interest expense.

 

Employees

 

As of September 30, 2005, we had 2,773 employees, of whom 638 were office, clerical and customer service personnel; 1,041 were heating equipment repairmen; 426 were oil truck drivers and mechanics; 400 were management and 268 were employed in sales. Included in the heating oil segment’s employees are approximately 1,000 employees that are represented by 17 different local chapters of labor unions. Some of these unions have union administered pension plans that have significant unfunded liabilities, a portion of which could be assessed to us should we withdraw from these plans. In addition, approximately 485 seasonal employees are rehired annually to support the requirements of the heating season. We are currently involved in three union negotiations and believe that our relations with both our union and non-union employees are generally satisfactory.

 

Government Regulations

 

We are subject to various federal, state and local environmental, health and safety laws and regulations. Generally, these laws impose limitations on the discharge of pollutants and establish standards for the handling of solid and hazardous wastes. These laws include the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (“CERCLA”), the Clean Air Act, the Occupational Safety and Health Act, the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act, the Clean Water Act and comparable state statutes. CERCLA, also known as the “Superfund” law, imposes joint and several liabilities without regard to fault or the legality of the original conduct on certain classes of persons that are considered to have contributed to the release or threatened release of a hazardous substance into the environment. Heating oils and certain automotive waste products generated by the Partnership’s fleet are hazardous substances within the meaning of CERCLA. These laws and regulations could result in civil or criminal penalties in cases of non-compliance or impose liability for remediation costs. The heating oil segment is currently a named “potentially responsible party” in one CERCLA civil enforcement action. This action is in its early stages of litigation with preliminary discovery activities taking place. We do not believe that this action will have a material impact on our financial condition or results of operations.

 

For acquisitions that involve the purchase or leasing of real estate, we conduct a due diligence investigation to attempt to determine whether any hazardous or other regulated substance has been sold from or stored on any of that real estate prior to its purchase. This

 

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due diligence includes questioning the seller, obtaining representations and warranties concerning the seller’s compliance with environmental laws and performing site assessments. During this due diligence our employees, and, in certain cases, independent environmental consulting firms review historical records and databases and conduct physical investigations of the property to look for evidence of hazardous substances, compliance violations and the existence of underground storage tanks.

 

Future developments, such as stricter environmental, health or safety laws and regulations thereunder, could affect our operations. To the extent that there are any environmental liabilities unknown to us or environmental, health or safety laws or regulations are made more stringent, there can be no assurance that our results of operations will not be materially and adversely affected.

 

Trademarks and Service Marks

 

We market our products and services under various trademarks, which we own. They include marks such as Petro and Meenan. We believe that the Petro, Meenan and other trademarks and service marks are an important part of our ability to effectively maintain and service our customer base.

 

ITEM 1A RISK FACTORS

 

An investment in the Partnership involves a high degree of risk. Security holders and Investors should carefully review the following risk factors.

 

The continuation of high wholesale energy costs may adversely affect our liquidity.

 

Under our revolving credit facility, as amended, we may borrow up to $260 million, which increases to $310 million during the peak winter months from December through March of each year, (subject to borrowing base limitations and coverage ratio) for working capital purposes subject to maintaining availability (as defined in the credit agreement) of $25 million or a fixed charge coverage ratio of not less than 1.1 to 1.0.

 

Recent dynamics of the heating oil industry have adversely impacted working capital requirements, principally as follows:

 

    High selling prices require additional borrowing to finance accounts receivable; however, we may borrow only approximately 85% against eligible accounts receivable and 40% to 80% of eligible inventory. In addition we may borrow up to $35 million against fixed assets and customer lists, which is reduced by $7.0 million each year over the life of the credit agreement.

 

    At present, suppliers are not providing credit terms to us, requiring us to pay in advance for product. Historically, we have enjoyed, on average, two-to three-day credit terms providing additional credit support during the heating season.

 

    Due to our current credit position, our ability to execute certain hedging strategies has been curtailed, which we anticipate will require us to purchase a greater proportion of Nymex futures contracts to meet our hedging strategy than we have in the past. These contracts require an initial margin at the time of purchase and we are required to fund maintenance margins based on daily market adjustments should the market price of home heating oil decrease. The payment of these margins, if required, may be well in advance of settlement and will have an adverse impact on liquidity.

 

    In addition to the foregoing, there is a risk that accounts receivable collection experience may not equal that of prior periods since customers are owing larger amounts which could be outstanding for longer periods of time.

 

If our credit requirements should exceed the amounts available under our revolving credit facility or should we fail to maintain the required availability, we would not have sufficient working capital to operate our business, which could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations.

 

Our substantial debt and other financial obligations could impair our financial condition and our ability to fulfill our debt obligations.

 

We had total debt, exclusive of our working capital facility, of approximately $268.2 million as of September 30, 2005. Our substantial indebtedness and other financial obligations could:

 

    impair our ability to obtain additional financing in the future for working capital, capital expenditures, acquisitions or general corporate purposes;

 

    have a material adverse effect on us if we fail to comply with financial and affirmative and restrictive covenants in our debt agreements and an event of default occurs as a result of a failure that is not cured or waived;

 

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    require us to dedicate a substantial portion of our cash flow for interest payments on our indebtedness and other financial obligations, thereby reducing the availability of our cash flow to fund working capital and capital expenditures;

 

    limit our flexibility in planning for, or reacting to, changes in our business and the industry in which we operate; and

 

    place us at a competitive disadvantage compared to our competitors that have proportionately less debt.

 

If we are unable to meet our debt service obligations and other financial obligations, we could be forced to restructure or refinance our indebtedness and other financial transactions, seek additional equity capital or sell our assets. We may then be unable to obtain such financing or capital or sell our assets on satisfactory terms, if at all.

 

If our use of the net proceeds from the sale of the propane segment does not comply with the terms of the Indenture for the MLP Notes, we may be subject to liability to the note holders, which could have a material adverse effect on us.

 

In December 2004, we completed the sale of our propane segment. Pursuant to the terms of the indenture relating to the MLP Notes, we are permitted, within 360 days of the sale, to apply the Net Proceeds to a Permitted Use. To the extent there are any Excess Proceeds, the indenture requires us to make an offer to all holders of MLP Notes to purchase for cash that number of MLP Notes that may be purchased with Excess Proceeds at a purchase price equal to 100% of the principal amount of the MLP Notes plus accrued and unpaid interest to the date of purchase.

 

After payment of certain debt and transaction expenses, the Net Proceeds from the propane segment sale were approximately $156.3 million. As of September 30, 2005, we had utilized $53.1 million of such Net Proceeds to invest in working capital assets, purchase capital assets and repay long-term debt, which reduced the amount of Net Proceeds in excess of $10 million not applied toward a Permitted Use to $93.2 million as of September 30, 2005. As of December 2, 2005, all Excess Proceeds have been applied toward a Permitted Use. See “Recapitalization.”

 

We understand, based on informal communications, that certain holders of MLP Notes may take the position that the use of Net Proceeds to invest in working capital assets is not a Permitted Use under the indenture. We disagree with this position and have communicated our disagreement with these noteholders. However, if our position is challenged and we are unsuccessful in defending our position, this would constitute an event of default under the indenture if declared either by the holders of 25% in principal amount of the MLP Notes or by the trustee. In such event, all amounts due under the senior notes would become immediately due and payable, which would have a material adverse effect on our ability to continue as a going concern. The report of our independent registered public accounting firm on our consolidated financial statements as of September 30, 2005 and 2004, and for the three years ended September 30, 2005, includes an explanatory paragraph with respect to the impact of this matter on our ability to continue as a going concern if this matter is resolved adversely to us. We have reached an agreement with the holders of 94% in aggregate principal amount of the senior notes to resolve this matter, which is subject to our completing the proposed recapitalization, of which there can be no assurance.

 

Since weather conditions may adversely affect the demand for home heating oil, our financial condition is vulnerable to warm winters.

 

Weather conditions have a significant impact on the demand for home heating oil because our customers depend on this product principally for space heating purposes. As a result, weather conditions may materially adversely impact our operating results and financial condition. During the peak heating season of October through March, sales of home heating oil historically have represented approximately 75% to 80% of our annual home heating oil volume. Actual weather conditions can vary substantially from year to year, significantly affecting our financial performance. Furthermore, warmer than normal temperatures in one or more regions in which we operate can significantly decrease the total volume we sell and the gross profit realized on those sales and, consequently, our results of operations. For example, in fiscal 2000 and especially fiscal 2002, temperatures were significantly warmer than normal for the areas in which we sell home heating oil, which adversely affected the amount of EBITDA that we generated during these periods. In fiscal 2002, temperatures in our areas of operation were an average of 18.4% warmer than in fiscal 2001 and 18.0% warmer than normal. We purchase weather insurance to help minimize the adverse effect of weather volatility on our cash flows, of which there can be no assurance.

 

Our operating results will be adversely affected if we experience significant customer losses that are not offset or reduced by customer gains.

 

Our net attrition rate of home heating oil customers for fiscal 2003, 2004 and 2005 was approximately 1.5%, 6.4% and 7.1%, respectively. This rate represents the net of our annual customer loss rate after customer gains. For fiscal 2003, 2004 and 2005, gross customer losses were 16.4%, 19.5% and 20%, respectively. For fiscal 2003, 2004 and 2005, gross customer gains were 14.9%, 13.1% and 12.9%, respectively. The gain of a new customer does not fully compensate for the loss of an existing customer during the first year because of the expenses incurred to acquire a new customer and the higher attrition rate associated with new customers. Customer losses are the result of various factors, including:

 

    supplier changes based primarily on price competition, particularly during periods of high energy costs

 

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    quality of service issues, including those related to our centralized call center

 

    credit problems; and

 

    customer relocations.

 

The continuing unprecedented rise and volatility in the price of heating oil has intensified price competition, which has adversely impacted our margins and added to our difficulty in reducing customer attrition. We believe our attrition rate has risen not only because of increased price competition related to the rise in oil prices but also because of operational problems. Prior to the 2004 winter heating season, we attempted to develop a competitive advantage in customer service and, as part of that effort, centralized a majority of our heating equipment service dispatch and engaged a centralized call center to fulfill telephone requirements for a majority of our home heating oil customers. We experienced difficulties in advancing this initiative during fiscal 2004, which adversely impacted our customer base and costs. In fiscal 2004 and 2005, the customer experience was below the level associated with other premium service providers and below the level of service provided by us in prior years.

 

We believe that we have identified the problems associated with the centralization efforts and are taking steps to address these issues. We expect that high net attrition rates may continue through fiscal 2006 and perhaps beyond and even to the extent the rate of attrition can be halted, attrition from prior fiscal years will adversely impact net income in the future.

 

We believe that this increase in net customer attrition over the past two years can be attributed to: (i) a combination of the affect of our premium service/premium price strategy when customer price sensitivity increased due to high energy prices; (ii) our decision in fiscal 2005 to maintain reasonable profit margins going forward in spite of competitors’ aggressive pricing tactics; (iii) the lag effect of customer attrition related to service and delivery problems experienced by customers in prior fiscal years; (iv) continued customer dissatisfaction with the centralization of customer care; and (v) tightened customer credit standards.

 

We have continued to experience net customer attrition during fiscal 2006. If wholesale prices remain high, we believe the risk of customer losses due to credit problems, especially for commercial customers, may increase and bad debt expense will also increase.

 

We may not be able to achieve net gains of customers and may continue to experience net customer attrition in the future.

 

Sudden and sharp oil price increases that cannot be passed on to customers may adversely affect our operating results.

 

The retail home heating oil industry is a “margin-based” business in which gross profit depends on the excess of retail sales prices over supply costs. Consequently, our profitability is sensitive to changes in the wholesale price of home heating oil caused by changes in supply or other market conditions. These factors are beyond our control and thus, when there are sudden and sharp increases in the wholesale cost of home heating oil, we may not be able to pass on these increases to customers through increased retail sales prices. As of September 30, 2005, the wholesale cost of home heating oil, as measured by the closing price on the New York Mercantile Exchange, had increased by 48% to $2.06 per gallon from $1.39 per gallon as of September 30, 2004. During fiscal 2005, per gallon home heating oil prices peaked at $2.18 on September 1, 2005. Wholesale price increases could reduce our gross profits and could, if continuing over an extended period of time, reduce demand by encouraging conservation or conversion to alternative energy sources. In an effort to retain existing accounts and attract new customers, we may offer discounts, which will impact the net per gallon gross margin realized.

 

A significant portion of our home heating oil volume is sold to price-protected customers and our gross margins could be adversely affected if we are not able to effectively hedge against fluctuations in the volume and cost of product sold to these customers.

 

A significant portion of our home heating oil volume is sold to individual customers under an agreement pre-establishing the maximum sales price or a fixed price of home heating oil over a 12-month period. For the fiscal year ended September 30, 2005, approximately 48% of our retail home heating oil volume sales were under a price protected plan. The price at which home heating oil is sold to these price protected customers is generally renegotiated prior to the heating season of each year based on current market conditions. We currently purchase futures contracts, swaps and option contracts for a substantial majority of the heating oil that we expect to sell to these price-protected customers that have agreements in place in advance and at a fixed or maximum cost per gallon. We purchase these positions when a price protected customer renews his purchase commitment for the next 12 months. We utilize various hedging strategies in order to “lock in” the per gallon margin for price protected customers. The amount of home heating oil volume that we hedge per price protected customer is based upon the estimated fuel consumption per customer, per month. In the event that the actual usage exceeds the amount of the hedged volume on a monthly basis, we could be required to obtain additional volume at unfavorable margins. In addition, should actual usage be less than the hedged volume we may have excess inventory on hand at unfavorable costs.

 

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If we do not make acquisitions on economically acceptable terms, our future financial performance will be limited.

 

The home heating oil industry is not a growth industry because new housing generally does not use oil heat and increased competition exists from alternative energy sources. A significant portion of our growth in the past decade has been directly tied to our acquisition program. Accordingly, future financial performance will depend on our ability to make acquisitions at attractive prices. We cannot assure that we will be able to identify attractive acquisition candidates in the home heating oil sector in the future or that we will be able to acquire businesses on economically acceptable terms. Factors that may adversely affect home heating oil operating and financial results may limit our access to capital and adversely affect our ability to make acquisitions. Under the terms of our revolving credit facility, the heating oil segment was restricted from making any acquisitions through June 17, 2005 and thereafter individual acquisitions may not exceed an aggregate of $25 million. In addition, the heating oil segment is restricted from making any acquisition unless availability (essentially borrowing base availability less borrowings) was at least $40 million, on a pro forma basis, during the last 12 month period ending on the date of such acquisition. These restrictions severely limit our ability to make acquisitions. Any acquisition may involve potential risks to us and ultimately to our unitholders, including:

 

    an increase in our indebtedness;

 

    an increase in our working capital requirements

 

    our inability to integrate the operations of the acquired business;

 

    our inability to successfully expand our operations into new territories;

 

    the diversion of management’s attention from other business concerns; and

 

    an excess of customer loss or loss of key employees from the acquired business.

 

In addition, acquisitions may be dilutive to earnings and distributions to unitholders and any additional debt incurred to finance acquisitions may among other things, affect our ability to make distributions to our unitholders.

 

Because of the highly competitive nature of the retail home heating oil industry, we may not be able to retain existing customers or acquire new customers, which would have an adverse impact on our operating results and financial condition.

 

If the home heating oil business is unable to compete effectively, we may lose existing customers or fail to acquire new customers, which would have a material adverse effect on our results of operations and financial condition.

 

We compete with heating oil distributors offering a broad range of services and prices, from full service distributors, like us, to those offering delivery only. Competition with other companies in the home heating oil industry is based primarily on customer service and price. It is customary for companies to deliver home heating oil to their customers based upon weather conditions and historical consumption patterns, without the customer making an affirmative purchase decision. Most companies provide home heating equipment repair service on a 24-hour-per-day basis. In some cases, homeowners have formed buying cooperatives to purchase fuel oil from distributors at a price lower than individual customers are otherwise able to obtain. As a result of these factors, it may be difficult to acquire new customers.

 

We can make no assurances that we will be able to compete successfully. If competitors continue to increase market share by reducing their prices, as we believe occurred recently, our operating results and financial condition could be materially and adversely affected. We also compete for customers with suppliers of alternative energy products, principally natural gas. Competition from alternative energy sources has been increasing as a result of reduced regulation of many utilities, including natural gas and electricity, and the high price of oil. We could face additional price competition from electricity and natural gas as a result of deregulation in those industries. Over the past five years, conversions by the heating oil segment’s customers from heating oil to natural gas have averaged approximately 1% per year.

 

The continuing unprecedented rise in the price of heating oil has intensified price competition, which has adversely impacted our product margins and added to our difficulty in reducing customer attrition. We believe our attrition rate has risen not only because of increased price competition related to the rise in oil prices, but also because of operational problems. Prior to the 2004 winter heating season, we attempted to develop a competitive advantage in customer service and, as part of that effort, centralized a majority of our heating equipment service dispatch and engaged a centralized call center to fulfill telephone requirements for the majority of our home heating oil customers. We experienced difficulties in advancing this initiative during fiscal 2004 and 2005, which adversely impacted our customer base and costs. In fiscal 2004 and 2005 the customer experience was below the level associated with other premium service providers and below the level of service provided by us in prior years.

 

We believe that we have identified the problems associated with these centralization efforts and are taking steps to address these issues We expect that high net attrition rates may continue through fiscal 2006 and perhaps beyond and even to the extent that the rate of attrition can be halted, attrition in prior fiscal years will adversely impact net income in the future.

 

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Energy efficiency and new technology may reduce the demand for our products and adversely affect our operating results.

 

Increased conservation and technological advances, including installation of improved insulation and the development of more efficient furnaces and other heating devices, have adversely affected the demand for our products by retail customers. Future conservation measures or technological advances in heating, conservation, energy generation or other devices might reduce demand and adversely affect our operating results.

 

We are subject to operating and litigation risks that could adversely affect our operating results whether or not covered by insurance.

 

Our operations are subject to all operating hazards and risks normally incidental to handling, storing, transporting and otherwise providing customers with home heating oil. As a result, we may be a defendant in legal proceedings and litigation arising in the ordinary course of business.

 

We maintain insurance policies with insurers in amounts and with coverage and deductibles as we believe are reasonable. However, there can be no assurance that this insurance will be adequate to protect us from all material expenses related to potential future claims for remediation costs and personal and property damage or that these levels of insurance will be available in the future at economical prices.

 

Our insurance reserves may not be adequate to cover actual losses.

 

We self-insure a portion of workers’ compensation, automobile and general liability claims. We establish reserves based upon expectations as to what our ultimate liability will be for these claims using developmental factors based upon historical claim experience. We periodically evaluate the potential for changes in loss estimates with the support of qualified actuaries. As of September 30, 2005, we had approximately $33.8 million of insurance reserves and had issued $43.8 million in letters of credit for current and future claims. The ultimate settlement of these claims could differ materially from the assumptions used to calculate the reserves, which could have a material effect on our results of operations.

 

We are the subject of a number of class action lawsuits alleging violation of the federal securities laws, which if decided adversely, could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition.

 

On or about October 21, 2004, a purported class action lawsuit on behalf of a purported class of unitholders was filed against the Partnership and various subsidiaries and officers and directors in the United States District Court of the District of Connecticut entitled Carter v. Star Gas Partners, L.P., et al, No. 3:04-cv-01766-IBA, et al. Subsequently, 16 additional class action complaints, alleging the same or substantially similar claims, were filed in the same district court: (1) Feit v. Star Gas, et al. Civil Action No. 04-1832 (filed on 10/29/2004), (2) Lila Gold vs. Star Gas, et al, Civil Action No. 04-1791 (filed on 10/22/2004), (3) Jagerman v. Star Gas, et al, Civil Action No. 04-1855 (filed on 11/3/2004), (4) McCole, et al v. Star Gas, et al, Civil Action No. 04-1859 (filed on 11/3/2004), (5) Prokop vs. Star Gas, et al, Civil Action No. 04-1785 (filed on 10/22/2004), (6) Seigle v. Star Gas, et al, Civil Action No. 04-1803 (filed on 10/25/2004), (7) Strunk v. Star Gas, et al, Civil Action No. 04-1815 (filed on 10/27/2004), (8) Harriette S. & Charles L. Tabas Foundation vs. Star Gas, et al, Civil Action No. 04-1857 (filed on 11/3/2004), (9) Weiss v. Star Gas, et al, Civil Action No. 04-1807 (filed on 10/26/2004), (10) White v. Star Gas, et al, Civil Action No. 04-1837 (filed on 10/9/2004), (11) Wood vs. Star Gas et al, Civil Action No. 04-1856 (filed on 11/3/2004), (12) Yopp vs. Star Gas, et al, Civil Action No. 04-1865 (filed on 11/3/2004), (13) Kiser v. Star Gas, et al, Civil Action No. 04-1884 (filed on 11/9/2004), (14) Lederman v. Star Gas, et al, Civil Action No. 04-1873 (filed on 11/5/2004), (15) Dinkes v. Star Gas, et al, Civil Action No. 04-1979 (filed 11/22/2004) and (16) Gould v. Star Gas, et al, Civil Action No. 04-2133 (filed on 12/17/2004) (including the Carter Complaint, collectively referred to herein as the “Class Action Complaints”). The class actions have been consolidated into one action entitled In re Star Gas Securities Litigation, No 3:04cv1766 (JBA).

 

The class action plaintiffs generally allege that the Partnership violated Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, and Rule 10-b5 promulgated thereunder, by purportedly failing to disclose, among other things: (1) problems with the restructuring of Star Gas’s dispatch system and customer attrition related thereto; (2) that Star Gas’ heating oil segment’s business process improvement program was not generating the benefits allegedly claimed; (3) that Star Gas was struggling to maintain its profit margins in its heating oil segment; (4) that Star Gas’s fiscal 2004 second quarter profit margins were not representative of its ability to pass on heating oil price increases; and (5) that Star Gas was facing an inability to pay its debts and that, as a result, its credit rating and ability to obtain future financing was in jeopardy. The class action plaintiffs seek an unspecified amount of compensatory damages including interest against the defendants jointly and severally and an award of reasonable costs and expenses. On February 23, 2005, the Court consolidated the Class Action Complaints and heard argument on motions for the appointment of lead plaintiff. On April 8, 2005, the Court appointed the lead plaintiff. Pursuant to the Court’s order, the lead plaintiff filed a consolidated amended complaint on June 20, 2005 (the “Consolidated Amended Complaint”). The Consolidated Amended Complaint named: (a) Star Gas Partners, L.P.; (b) Star Gas LLC; (c) Irik Sevin; (d) Audrey Sevin; (e) Hanseatic Americas, Inc.; (f) Paul Biddelman; (g) Ami Trauber; (h) A.G. Edwards & Sons Inc.; (i) UBS Investment Bank; and (j) RBC Dain Rauscher Inc. as defendants. The Consolidated Amended Complaint added claims arising out of two registration statements and the same transactions under Sections

 

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11, 12(a)(2) and 15 of the Securities Act of 1933 as well as certain allegations concerning the Partnership’s hedging practices. On September 23, 2005, defendants filed motions to dismiss the Consolidated Amended Complaint for failure to state a claim under the federal securities laws and failure to satisfy the applicable pleading requirements of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 (“PSLRA”), and the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Plaintiffs filed their response to defendants’ motions to dismiss on or about November 23, 2005 and defendants are scheduled to file their reply briefs on or about December 20, 2005. In the interim, discovery in the matter remains stayed pursuant to the mandatory stay provisions of the PSLRA. While no prediction may be made as to the outcome of litigation, we intend to defend against this class action vigorously.

 

In the event that the above action is decided adversely to us, it could have a material effect on our results of operations, financial condition and liquidity

 

Our results of operations and financial condition may be adversely affected by governmental regulation and associated environmental and regulatory costs.

 

The home heating oil business is subject to a wide range of federal and state laws and regulations related to environmental and other regulated matters. We have implemented environmental programs and policies designed to avoid potential liability and costs under applicable environmental laws. It is possible, however, that we will experience increased costs due to stricter pollution control requirements or liabilities resulting from noncompliance with operating or other regulatory permits. New environmental regulations might adversely impact operations, including underground storage and transportation of home heating oil. In addition, there are environmental risks inherently associated with home heating oil operations, such as the risks of accidental release or spill. It is possible that material costs and liabilities will be incurred, including those relating to claims for damages to property and persons. Before August 2006, we must implement certain changes to ensure compliance with amended Environmental Protection Agency regulations. We currently estimate that the capital required to effectuate these requirements will range from $1.0 to $1.5 million.

 

In our acquisition of Meenan, we assumed all of Meenan’s environmental liabilities.

 

In our acquisition of Meenan Oil Company, or “Meenan,” in August 2001, we assumed all of Meenan’s environmental liabilities, including those related to the cleanup of contaminated properties, in consideration of a reduction of the purchase price of $2.7 million. Subsequent to closing, we established an additional reserve of $2.3 million to cover potential costs associated with remediating known environmental liabilities, bringing the total reserve to $5.0 million. To date, remediation expenses against this reserve have totaled $3.1 million. While we believe this reserve is adequate, it is possible that the extent of the contamination at issue or the expense of addressing it could exceed our estimates and thus the costs of remediating these known liabilities could materially exceed the amount reserved.

 

Conflicts of interest have arisen and could arise in the future as a result of relationships between the general partner and its affiliates on the one hand, and the Partnership and its limited partners, on the other hand.

 

Conflicts of interest have arisen and could arise in the future as a result of relationships between the general partner and its affiliates, on the one hand, and the Partnership or any of the limited partners, on the other hand. As a result of these conflicts the general partner may favor its own interests and those of its affiliates over the interests of the unitholders. The nature of these conflicts is ongoing and includes the following considerations:

 

    Except for Irik P. Sevin, who is subject to a non-competition agreement, the general partner’s affiliates are not prohibited from engaging in other business or activities, including direct competition with us.

 

    The general partner determines the amount and timing of asset purchases and sales, capital expenditures, borrowings and reserves, each of which can impact the amount of cash, if any, available for distribution to unitholders, and available to pay principal and interest on debt.

 

    The general partner controls the enforcement of obligations owed to the Partnership by the general partner.

 

    The general partner decides whether to retain separate counsel, accountants or others to perform services for the Partnership.

 

    In some instances the general partner may borrow funds in order to permit the payment of distributions to unitholders.

 

The risk of global terrorism and political unrest may adversely affect the economy and the price and availability of home heating oil and have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, and results of operations.

 

Terrorist attacks, such as the attacks that occurred in New York, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C. on September 11, 2001, and political unrest in the Middle East may adversely impact the price and availability of home heating oil, our results of operations, our

 

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ability to raise capital and our future growth. The impact that the foregoing may have on the heating oil industry in general, and on our business in particular, is not known at this time. An act of terror could result in disruptions of crude oil supplies and markets, the source of home heating oil, and its facilities could be direct or indirect targets. Terrorist activity may also hinder our ability to transport home heating oil if our normal means of transportation become damaged as a result of an attack. Instability in the financial markets as a result of terrorism could also affect our ability to raise capital. Terrorist activity could likely lead to increased volatility in prices for home heating oil. Insurance carriers are routinely excluding coverage for terrorist activities from their normal policies, but are required to offer such coverage as a result of new federal legislation. We have opted to purchase this coverage with respect to our property and casualty insurance programs. This additional coverage has resulted in additional insurance premiums.

 

The impact of hurricanes and other natural disasters could cause disruptions in supply and have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.

 

Hurricanes, particularly in the Gulf of Mexico, and other natural disasters may cause disruptions in the supply chains for home heating oil and other petroleum products. Disruptions in supply could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations, causing an increase in wholesale prices and decrease in supply.

 

Cash distributions (if any) are not guaranteed and may fluctuate with performance and reserve requirements.

 

Because distributions on the common and subordinated units are dependent on the amount of cash generated, distributions may fluctuate based on our performance. The actual amount of cash that is available will depend upon numerous factors, including:

 

    profitability of operations;

 

    required principal and interest payments on debt;

 

    debt covenants

 

    margin account requirements;

 

    cost of acquisitions;

 

    issuance of debt and equity securities;

 

    fluctuations in working capital;

 

    capital expenditures;

 

    adjustments in reserves;

 

    prevailing economic conditions;

 

    financial, business and other factors; and

 

    increased pension funding requirements

 

Most of these factors are beyond the control of the general partner.

 

The partnership agreement gives the general partner discretion in establishing reserves for the proper conduct of our business. These reserves will also affect the amount of cash available for distribution. The general partner may establish reserves for distributions on the senior subordinated units only if those reserves will not prevent the Partnership from distributing the full minimum quarterly distribution, plus any arrearages, on the common units for the following four quarters.

 

On October 18, 2004, we announced that we would not pay a distribution on the common units as a result of the requirements of our bank lenders. We had previously announced the suspension of distributions on the senior subordinated units on July 29, 2004. The revolving credit facility and the indenture for the MLP Notes both impose certain restrictions on our ability to pay distributions to unitholders. It is unlikely that regular distributions on the common units or senior subordinated units will be resumed in the foreseeable future. See “Recapitalization.”

 

ITEM 1B. UNRESOLVED STAFF COMMENTS

 

Not applicable.

 

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ITEM 2. PROPERTIES

 

We provide services to our customers from 19 principle operating locations and 47 depots, 29 of which are owned and 37 of which are leased, in 32 marketing areas in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. As of September 30, 2005, we had a fleet of 1,049 truck and transport vehicles, the majority of which were owned and 1,245 services vans, the majority of which are leased. We lease our corporate headquarters in Stamford, Connecticut. Our obligations under our credit facility are secured by liens and mortgages on substantially all of the Partnership’s and subsidiaries real and personal property.

 

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ITEM 3. LEGAL PROCEEDINGS – LITIGATION

 

On or about October 21, 2004, a purported class action lawsuit on behalf of a purported class of unitholders was filed against the Partnership and various subsidiaries and officers and directors in the United States District Court of the District of Connecticut entitled Carter v. Star Gas Partners, L.P., et al, No. 3:04-cv-01766-IBA, et.al. Subsequently, 16 additional class action complaints, alleging the same or substantially similar claims, were filed in the same district court: (1) Feit v. Star Gas, et al. Civil Action No. 04-1832 (filed on 10/29/2004), (2) Lila Gold vs. Star Gas, et al, Civil Action No. 04-1791 (filed on 10/22/2004), (3) Jagerman v. Star Gas, et al, Civil Action No. 04-1855 (filed on 11/3/2004), (4) McCole, et al v. Star Gas, et al, Civil Action No. 04-1859 (filed on 11/3/2004), (5) Prokop vs. Star Gas, et al, Civil Action No. 04-1785 (filed on 10/22/2004), (6) Seigle v. Star Gas, et al, Civil Action No. 04-1803 (filed on 10/25/2004), (7) Strunk v. Star Gas, et al, Civil Action No. 04-1815 (filed on 10/27/2004), (8) Harriette S. & Charles L. Tabas Foundation vs. Star Gas, et al, Civil Action No. 04-1857 (filed on 11/3/2004), (9) Weiss v. Star Gas, et al, Civil Action No. 04-1807 (filed on 10/26/2004), (10) White v. Star Gas, et al, Civil Action No. 04-1837 (filed on 10/9/2004), (11) Wood vs. Star Gas et al, Civil Action No. 04-1856 (filed on 11/3/2004), (12) Yopp vs. Star Gas, et al, Civil Action No. 04-1865 (filed on 11/3/2004), (13) Kiser v. Star Gas, et al, Civil Action No. 04-1884 (filed on 11/9/2004), (14) Lederman v. Star Gas, et al, Civil Action No. 04-1873 (filed on 11/5/2004), (15) Dinkes v. Star Gas, et al, Civil Action No. 04-1979 (filed 11/22/2004) and (16) Gould v. Star Gas, et al, Civil Action No. 04-2133 (filed on 12/17/2004) (including the Carter Complaint, collectively referred to herein as the “Class Action Complaints”). The class actions have been consolidated into one action entitled In re Star Gas Securities Litigation, No 3:04cv1766 (JBA).

 

The class action plaintiffs generally allege that the Partnership violated Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, and Rule 10-b5 promulgated thereunder, by purportedly failing to disclose, among other things: (1) problems with the restructuring of Star Gas’s dispatch system and customer attrition related thereto; (2) that Star Gas’s heating oil segment’s business process improvement program was not generating the benefits allegedly claimed; (3) that Star Gas was struggling to maintain its profit margins in its heating oil segment; (4) that Star Gas’s fiscal 2004 second quarter profit margins were not representative of its ability to pass on heating oil price increases; and (5) that Star Gas was facing an inability to pay its debts and that, as a result, its credit rating and ability to obtain future financing was in jeopardy. The class action plaintiffs seek an unspecified amount of compensatory damages including interest against the defendants jointly and severally and an award of reasonable costs and expenses. On February 23, 2005, the Court consolidated the Class Action Complaints and heard argument on motions for the appointment of lead plaintiff. On April 8, 2005, the Court appointed the lead plaintiff. Pursuant to the Court’s order, the lead plaintiff filed a consolidated amended complaint on June 20, 2005 (the “Consolidated Amended Complaint”). The Consolidated Amended Complaint named: (a) Star Gas Partners, L.P.; (b) Star Gas LLC; (c) Irik Sevin; (d) Audrey Sevin; (e) Hanseatic Americas, Inc.; (f) Paul Biddelman; (g) Ami Trauber; (h) A.G. Edwards & Sons Inc.; (i) UBS Investment Bank; and (j) RBC Dain Rauscher Inc. as defendants. The Consolidated Amended Complaint added claims arising out of two registration statements and the same transactions under Sections 11, 12(a)(2) and 15 of the Securities Act of 1933 as well as certain allegations concerning the Partnership’s hedging practices. On September 23, 2005, defendants filed motions to dismiss the Consolidated Amended Complaint for failure to state a claim under the federal securities laws and failure to satisfy the applicable pleading requirements of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 (“PSLRA”), and the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Plaintiffs filed their response to defendants’ motions to dismiss on or about November 23, 2005 and defendants are scheduled to file their reply briefs on or about December 20, 2005. In the interim, discovery in the matter remains stayed pursuant to the mandatory stay provisions of the PSLRA. While no prediction may be made as to the outcome of litigation, we intend to defend against this class action vigorously.

 

In the event that the above action is decided adversely to us, it could have a material effect on our results of operations, financial condition and liquidity.

 

Our operations are subject to all operating hazards and risks normally incidental to handling, storing and transporting and otherwise providing for use by consumers of combustible liquids such as propane and home heating oil.

 

As a result, at any given time we are a defendant in various legal proceedings and litigation arising in the ordinary course of business. We maintain insurance policies with insurers in amounts and with coverages and deductibles we believe are reasonable and prudent. However, we cannot assure that this insurance will be adequate to protect us from all material expenses related to potential future claims for personal and property damage or that these levels of insurance will be available in the future at economical prices. In addition, the occurrence of an explosion may have an adverse effect on the public’s desire to use our products. In the opinion of management, except as described above we are not a party to any litigation, which individually or in the aggregate could reasonably be expected to have a material adverse effect on our results of operations, financial position or liquidity.

 

ITEM 4. SUBMISSION OF MATTERS TO A VOTE OF SECURITY HOLDERS

 

None.

 

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PART II

 

ITEM 5. MARKET FOR REGISTRANT’S UNITS AND RELATED MATTERS

 

The common units, representing common limited partner interests in the Partnership, are listed and traded on the New York Stock Exchange, Inc. (“NYSE”) under the symbol “SGU”. The common units began trading on the NYSE on May 29, 1998. Previously, the common units had traded on the NASDAQ National Market under the symbol “SGASZ.”

 

The Partnership’s senior subordinated units began trading on the NYSE on March 29, 1999 under the symbol “SGH.” The senior subordinated units became eligible to receive distributions in February 2000, and the first distribution was made in August 2000. The following tables set forth the high and low closing price ranges for the common and senior subordinated units and the cash distribution declared on each unit for the fiscal 2004 and 2005 quarters indicated.

 

    

SGU - Common Unit Price

Range


  

Distributions

Declared per Unit


     High

   Low

  
     Fiscal
Year
2004


   Fiscal
Year
2005


   Fiscal
Year
2004


   Fiscal
Year
2005


  

Fiscal

Year

2004


   Fiscal
Year
2005


Quarter Ended

                                         

December 31,

   $ 24.93    $ 22.23    $ 21.79    $ 4.32    $ 0.575    $ —  

March 31,

   $ 25.59    $ 7.22    $ 22.85    $ 3.11    $ 0.575    $ —  

June 30,

   $ 25.53    $ 4.11    $ 20.00    $ 1.94    $ 0.575    $ —  

September 30,

   $ 24.25    $ 3.64    $ 20.54    $ 2.39    $ 0.575    $ —  
    

SGH - Sr. Subordinated Unit Price

Range


  

Distributions

Declared per Unit


     High

   Low

  
     Fiscal
Year
2004


   Fiscal
Year
2005


   Fiscal
Year
2004


   Fiscal
Year
2005


   Fiscal
Year
2004


   Fiscal
Year
2005


Quarter Ended

                                         

December 31,

   $ 21.60    $ 14.05    $ 20.01    $ 2.31    $ 0.575    $ —  

March 31,

   $ 23.80    $ 4.42    $ 20.45    $ 2.05    $ 0.575    $ —  

June 30,

   $ 23.90    $ 4.60    $ 18.75    $ 1.15    $ 0.575    $ —  

September 30,

   $ 22.65    $ 3.35    $ 12.62    $ 2.12    $ —      $ —  

 

As of September 30, 2005, there were approximately 599 holders of record of common units, and approximately 104 holders of record of senior subordinated units.

 

On October 18, 2004, we announced that we would not pay a distribution on our common units. We had previously announced the suspension of distributions on the senior subordinated units on July 29, 2004. We did not pay a distribution on any outstanding units in fiscal 2005. It is unlikely that regular distributions on the common units or senior subordinated units will be resumed in the foreseeable future. While we hope to position ourselves to pay some regular distribution on the common units in future years, of which there can be no assurance, it is considerable less likely that regular distributions will ever resume on the senior subordinated units because of their subordination terms. As of November 25, 2005 there are arrearages aggregating five minimum quarterly distributions on our common units amounting to approximately $92.5 million No distribution may be made on our senior subordinated notes until these arrearages have been paid. For more information on the relative rights and preferences of the senior subordinated units, see the Partnership’s Agreement of Limited Partnership, which is incorporated by reference in this Annual Report as described in Item 15. On December, 9, 2005, the closing price of SGU-common unit was $2.19 per unit and the closing price of SGH-senior subordinated unit was $2.15 per unit.

 

There is no established public trading market for the Partnership’s 345,364 Junior Subordinated Units and 325,729 general partner units.

 

In general, we had distributed to our partners, on a quarterly basis, all of our Available Cash in the manner described below. Available Cash is defined for any of the Partnership’s fiscal quarters, as all cash on hand at the end of that quarter, less the amount of cash reserves that are necessary or appropriate in the reasonable discretion of the general partner to (i) provide for the proper conduct of the business; (ii) comply with applicable law, any of its debt instruments or other agreements; (iii) provide funds for distributions to the common unitholders and the senior subordinated unitholders during the next four quarters. We did not pay a distribution on any outstanding units during fiscal 2005.

 

The general partner may not establish cash reserves for distributions to the senior subordinated units unless the general partner has determined that the establishment of reserves will not prevent it from distributing the minimum quarterly distribution on any common unit arrearages and for the next four quarters. The full definition of Available Cash is set forth in the Agreement of Limited Partnership of the Partnership. Information concerning restrictions on distributions required in this section is incorporated herein by reference to footnote 5 to the Partnership’s Consolidated Financial Statements, which begin on page F-1 of this Form 10-K.

 

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The revolving credit facility and the indenture for the MLP Notes both impose certain restrictions on our ability to pay distributions to unitholders. It is unlikely that regular distributions on the common units or senior subordinated units will be resumed in the foreseeable future.

 

If the proposed recapitalization occurs, our Agreement of Limited Partnership will be amended to provide for no mandatory distributions until after September 30, 2008. See Item 1 “Recapitalization.”

 

Tax Matters

 

Star Gas Partners is a master limited partnership and thus not subject to federal income taxes. Instead, our unitholders are required to report for income tax purposes their allocable share of our income, gains, losses, deductions and credits, regardless of whether we make distributions. Accordingly, each common unitholder should consult its own tax advisor in analyzing the federal, state and local tax consequences applicable to their ownership or disposition of our units. Star Gas reports its tax information on a calendar year basis, while financial reporting is based on a fiscal year ending September 30.

 

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ITEM 6. SELECTED HISTORICAL FINANCIAL AND OPERATING DATA

 

The selected financial data as of September 30, 2004 and 2005, and for the years ended September 30, 2003, 2004 and 2005 is derived from the financial statements of the Partnership included elsewhere in this Report. The selected financial data as of September 30, 2001, 2002 and 2003 and for the fiscal years ended September 30, 2001 and 2002 is derived from financial statements of the Partnership not included elsewhere in this Report. See Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations.

 

     Fiscal Years Ended September 30,

 

(in thousands, except per unit data)

 

   2001(c)

    2002(c)

    2003

    2004

    2005

 

Statement of Operations Data:

                                        

Sales

   $ 767,959     $ 790,378     $ 1,102,968     $ 1,105,091     $ 1,259,478  

Costs and expenses:

                                        

Cost of sales

     563,803       546,495       793,543       799,055       983,779  

Delivery and branch expenses

     142,968       174,030       217,244       232,985       231,581  

Depreciation and amortization expenses

     28,595       40,444       35,535       37,313       35,480  

General and administrative expenses

     19,374       17,745       39,763       19,937       43,418  

Goodwill impairment charge

     —         —         —         —         67,000  
    


 


 


 


 


Operating income (loss)

     13,219       11,664       16,883       15,801       (101,780 )

Interest expense, net

     (20,716 )     (23,843 )     (29,530 )     (36,682 )     (31,838 )

Amortization of debt issuance costs

     (506 )     (1,197 )     (2,038 )     (3,480 )     (2,540 )

Gain (loss) on redemption of debt

     —         —         212       —         (42,082 )
    


 


 


 


 


Loss from continuing operations before income taxes

     (8,003 )     (13,376 )     (14,473 )     (24,361 )     (178,240 )

Income tax expense (benefit)

     1,200       (1,700 )     1,200       1,240       696  
    


 


 


 


 


Loss from continuing operations

     (9,203 )     (11,676 )     (15,673 )     (25,601 )     (178,936 )

Income (loss) from discontinued operations, net of inc. taxes

     2,488       507       19,786       20,276       (4,552 )

Gain (loss) on sales of discontinued operations, net of inc. taxes

     —         —         —         (538 )     157,560  

Cumulative effects of changes in accounting principles for discontinued operations:

                                        

Adoption of SFAS No. 133

     (627 )     —         —         —         —    

Adoption of SFAS No. 142

     —         —         (3,901 )     —         —    
    


 


 


 


 


Income (loss) before cumulative effects of changes in accounting principle for continuing operations

     (7,342 )     (11,169 )     212       (5,863 )     (25,928 )

Cumulative effects of changes in accounting principle for adoption of SFAS No. 133

     2,093       —         —         —         —    
    


 


 


 


 


Net income (loss)

   $ (5,249 )   $ (11,169 )   $ 212     $ (5,863 )   $ (25,928 )
    


 


 


 


 


Weighted average number of limited partner units:

                                        

Basic

     22,439       28,790       32,659       35,205       35,821  

Diluted

     22,552       28,821       32,767       35,205       35,821  

Per Unit Data:

                                        

Basic and diluted loss from continuing operations per unit (a)

   $ (0.40 )   $ (0.40 )   $ (0.48 )   $ (0.72 )   $ (4.95 )

Basic and diluted net income (loss) per unit (a)

   $ (0.23 )   $ (0.38 )   $ 0.01     $ (0.16 )   $ (0.72 )

Cash distribution declared per common unit

   $ 2.30     $ 2.30     $ 2.30     $ 2.30     $ —    

Cash distribution declared per senior sub. unit

   $ 1.98     $ 1.65     $ 1.65     $ 1.73     $ —    

Balance Sheet Data (end of period):

                                        

Current assets

   $ 185,262     $ 222,201     $ 211,109     $ 234,171     $ 311,432  

Total assets

   $ 898,819     $ 943,766     $ 975,610     $ 960,976     $ 629,261  

Long-term debt

   $ 456,523     $ 396,733     $ 499,341     $ 503,668     $ 267,417  

Partners’ Capital

   $ 198,264     $ 232,264     $ 189,776     $ 169,771     $ 145,108  

Summary Cash Flow Data:

                                        

Net Cash provided by (used in) operating activities

   $ 38,078     $ 18,773     $ 15,365     $ 13,669     $ (54,915 )

Net Cash provided by (used in) investing activities

   $ (295,885 )   $ (12,381 )   $ (48,395 )   $ 6,447     $ 467,431  

Net Cash provided by (used in) financing activities

   $ 263,355     $ 28,135     $ 48,049     $ (19,874 )   $ (306,694 )

Other Data:

                                        

Earnings from continuing operations before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) (b)

   $ 43,907     $ 52,108     $ 52,630     $ 53,114     $ (108,382 )

Heating oil segment’s retail gallons sold

     427,168       457,749       567,024       551,612       487,300  

(a) Income (loss) from continuing operations per unit is computed by dividing the limited partners’ interest in income (loss) from continuing operations by the weighted average number of limited partner units outstanding. Net income (loss) per unit is computed by dividing the limited partners’ interest in net income (loss) by the weighted average number of limited partner units outstanding.

 

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ITEM 6. SELECTED HISTORICAL FINANCIAL AND OPERATING DATA (Continued)

 

(b) EBITDA from continuing operations should not be considered as an alternative to net income (as an indicator of operating performance) or as an alternative to cash flow (as a measure of liquidity or ability to service debt obligations), but provides additional information for evaluating our ability to make the minimum quarterly distribution. The working capital facility and the senior secured notes, impose certain restrictions on our ability to pay distributions to unitholders. On October 18, 2004, we announced that we would not pay a distribution on the common units. We had previously announced the suspension of distributions on the senior subordinated units on July 29, 2004. We did not pay a distribution on any outstanding units in fiscal 2005. It is unlikely that regular distributions on the common units or senior subordinated units will be resumed in the foreseeable future. While we hope to position ourselves to pay some regular distribution on the common units in future years, of which there can be no assurance, it is considerably less likely that regular distributions will ever resume on the senior subordinated units because of their subordination terms. See Item 1 “Recapitalization.”

 

The definition of “EBITDA” set forth above may be different from that used by other companies. EBITDA from continuing operations is calculated for the fiscal years ended September 30 as follows:

 

(in thousands)

 

   2001

    2002

    2003

    2004

    2005

 

Loss from continuing operations

   $ (9,203 )   $ (11,676 )   $ (15,673 )   $ (25,601 )   $ (178,936 )

Cumulative effects of changes in accounting principle for adoption of SFAS No. 133 for continuing operations

     2,093       —         —         —         —    

Plus:

                                        

Income tax expense (benefit)

     1,200       (1,700 )     1,200       1,240       696  

Amortization of debt issuance cost

     506       1,197       2,038       3,480       2,540  

Interest expense, net

     20,716       23,843       29,530       36,682       31,838  

Depreciation and amortization

     28,595       40,444       35,535       37,313       35,480  
    


 


 


 


 


EBITDA from continuing operations

   $ 43,907     $ 52,108     $ 52,630     $ 53,114     $ (108,382 )
    


 


 


 


 


 

(c) Our results for fiscal years ended September 30, 2001 and 2002 do not reflect the impact of the provisions of SFAS No. 142.

 

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ITEM 7. MANAGEMENT’S DISCUSSION AND ANALYSIS OF FINANCIAL CONDITION AND RESULTS OF OPERATIONS.

 

Statement Regarding Forward-Looking Disclosure

 

This Annual Report on Form 10-K includes “forward-looking statements” which represent our expectations or beliefs concerning future events that involve risks and uncertainties, including those associated with the recapitalization, the effect of weather conditions on our financial performance, the price and supply of home heating oil, the consumption patterns of our customers, our ability to obtain satisfactory gross profit margins, our ability to obtain new accounts and retain existing accounts, our ability to effect strategic acquisitions or redeploy assets, the ultimate disposition of Excess Proceeds from the sale of the propane segment, the impact of litigation, the impact of the business process redesign project at the heating oil segment and our ability to address issues related to that project, our ability to contract for our future supply needs, natural gas conversions, future union relations and outcome of current union negotiations, the impact of future environmental, health, and safety regulations, customer credit worthiness, and marketing plans. All statements other than statements of historical facts included in this Report including, without limitation, the statements under “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” and elsewhere herein, are forward-looking statements. Although we believe that the expectations reflected in such forward-looking statements are reasonable, we can give no assurance that such expectations will prove to have been correct and actual results may differ materially from those projected as a result of certain risks and uncertainties. These risks and uncertainties include, but are not limited to, those set forth under the heading “Risk Factors,” “Business Initiatives and Strategy,” and “Business Outlook Fiscal 2006.” Without limiting the foregoing the words “believe”, “anticipate,” “plan,” “expect,” “seek,” “estimate” and similar expressions are intended to identify forward-looking statements. Important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from our expectations (“Cautionary Statements”) are disclosed in this Annual Report on Form 10-K. All subsequent written and oral forward-looking statements attributable to the Partnership or persons acting on its behalf are expressly qualified in their entirety by the Cautionary Statements. Unless otherwise required by law, we undertake no obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise after the date of this Report.

 

Overview

 

In analyzing our financial results, the following matters should be considered.

 

The following is a discussion of the historical condition and results of operations of the Partnership and its subsidiaries, and should be read in conjunction with the historical Financial and Operating Data and Notes thereto included elsewhere in this Report. We completed the sale of our TG&E segment in March 2004 and propane segment in December 2004. The following discussion reflects the historical results for the TG&E segment and propane segment as discontinued operations.

 

Our fiscal year ends on September 30. All references to quarters and years respectively in this document are to fiscal quarters and years unless otherwise noted. The seasonal nature of our business results in the sale of approximately 30% of our volume of home heating oil in the first fiscal quarter (October through December) and 45% of our volume in the second fiscal quarter (January through March) of each year, the peak heating season, because heating oil is primarily used for space heating in residential and commercial buildings. We generally realize net income in both of these quarters and net losses during the quarters ending June and September. In addition, sales volume typically fluctuates from year to year in response to variations in weather, wholesale energy prices and other factors. Gross profit is not only affected by weather patterns but also by changes in customer mix. For example, sales to our residential variable customers ordinarily generate higher margins than sales to our other customer groups, such as residential protected or commercial customers. In addition, our gross profit margins vary by geographic region. Accordingly, gross profit margins could vary significantly from year to year in a period of identical sales volumes.

 

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Summary of Significant Events and Developments

 

    Sale of propane segment

 

    New Credit Facility

 

    Unitholder suit

 

    Goodwill Write-down

 

    MLP Notes

 

    Departure of Chairman and CEO

 

    Home Heating Oil Price Volatility

 

    Customer attrition

 

    Operating expense /control

 

    Recapitalization

 

Sale of propane segment

 

In December 2004 we completed the sale of our propane segment to Inergy for a cash purchase price of $481.3 million and recognized a gain of approximately $157 million from the sale after closing costs of approximately $14 million. $311 million of the proceeds from the sale were used to repurchase senior secured notes and first mortgage notes of the heating oil segment and propane segment, together with associated prepayment premiums, accrued interest and the amounts then outstanding under the propane segment’s working capital facility. Our propane segment represented approximately 24% and 20% of our total revenue in fiscal 2004 and 2003, respectively, and 64% of our operating income in each of fiscal 2004 and 2003. The historical results of the propane segment are reflected as discontinued operations in our consolidated financial statements.

 

New Credit Facility

 

On December 17, 2004 we executed a new $260 million revolving credit facility with a group of lenders led by J.P. Morgan Chase Bank, N.A. This new facility provides us the ability to borrow up to $260 million for working capital purposes (subject to certain borrowing base limitations and coverage ratios) and replaced the heating oil segment’s existing $235 million credit facility. Fees and expenses totaling approximately $8.0 million were incurred in connection with consummating the new facility. On November 3, 2005, the revolving credit facility was amended to increase the facility size by $50 million to $310 million for the peak winter months from December through March of each year. Obligations under the new revolving credit facility are secured by liens on substantially all of the assets of the Partnership, the heating oil segment and its subsidiaries.

 

Unitholder Suit

 

In October 2004, a purported class action lawsuit was filed against the Partnership and various subsidiaries and current and former officers and directors. Subsequently, 16 additional class action complaints alleging the same or substantially similar claims were filed in the same district court. The complaints generally allege that the Partnership violated sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended. The court has consolidated the class action complaints and appointed a lead plaintiff. On September 23, 2005 we filed motions to dismiss. Plaintiffs replied to these motions on November 23, 2005 and we expect to file our reply briefs on or about December 20, 2005. In the interim, discovery in the matter remains stayed. We intend to continue to defend against this purported class action lawsuit vigorously.

 

Goodwill Write-down

 

During the second quarter of fiscal 2005 we incurred a non-cash goodwill impairment charge of $67 million at the heating oil segment as a result of triggering events that occurred during the second quarter of 2005. These triggering events included a significant decline in our unit price and the determination that operating results for fiscal 2005 would be significantly lower than previously expected.

 

MLP Notes

 

In accordance with the terms of the indenture relating to the Partnership’s 10 1/4% Senior Notes (“MLP Notes”), we are permitted within 360 days of the sale, to apply the net proceeds (the “Net Proceeds”) of the sale of the propane segment either to reduce indebtedness (and reduce any related commitment) of the Partnership or of a restricted subsidiary, or to make an investment in assets or capital expenditures useful to the business of the Partnership or any of its subsidiaries as in effect on the issue date of the MLP Notes (the “Issue Date”) or any business related, ancillary or complementary to any of the businesses of the Partnership on the Issue Date (each a “Permitted Use” and collectively the “Permitted Uses”). To the extent any Net Proceeds that are not so applied exceed $10 million (“Excess Proceeds”), the indenture requires us to make an offer to all holders of MLP Notes to purchase for cash that number of MLP Notes that may be purchased with Excess Proceeds at a purchase price equal to 100% of the principal amount of the MLP Notes plus accrued and unpaid interest to the date of purchase. At September 30, 2005, the amount of Net Proceeds in excess of $10 million not yet applied toward a Permitted Use totaled $93.2 million. As of December 2, 2005 all Excess Proceeds were applied toward a Permitted Use. We understand, based on informal communications, that certain holders of MLP Notes may take the position that the use of Net Proceeds to invest in working capital assets is not a Permitted Use under the indenture. We disagree with this position and have communicated our disagreement with these noteholders. However, if our position is challenged and we are unsuccessful in defending our position, this

 

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would constitute an event of default under the indenture if declared either by the holders of 25% in principal amount of the senior notes or by the trustee. In such event, all amounts due under the senior notes would become immediately due and payable, which would have a material adverse effect on our ability to continue as a going concern. The report of our independent registered public accounting firm on our consolidated financial statements as of September 30, 2005 and 2004, and for the three years ended September 30, 2005, includes an explanatory paragraph with respect to the impact of this matter on our ability to continue as a going concern if this matter is resolved adversely to us. We have reached an agreement with the holders of 94% in aggregate principal amount of the senior notes to resolve this matter, which is subject to our completing the proposed recapitalization, of which there can be no assurance. See “Recapitalization” below.

 

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Departure of Chairman and CEO

 

On March 7, 2005 (“the Termination Date”), Star Gas LLC and Mr. Irik P. Sevin entered into a letter agreement and general release (the “Agreement”). In accordance with the Agreement, Mr. Sevin resigned from employment as the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer and President of Star Gas LLC (and its subsidiaries) under the employment agreement between Mr. Sevin and Star Gas LLC dated as of September 30, 2001. In addition, under terms of the agreement Mr. Sevin transferred his member interests in Star Gas LLC to a voting trust of which Mr. Sevin is one of three trustees. Under the terms of the voting trust, those interests will be voted in accordance with the decision of a majority of the trustees. Pursuant to the Agreement, Mr. Sevin is entitled to an annual consulting fee totaling $395,000 for a period of five years following the Termination Date. In addition, the Agreement provides for Mr. Sevin to receive a retirement benefit equal to $350,000 per year for a 13 year period beginning with the month following the five year anniversary of the Termination Date. At March 31, 2005, we recorded a liability for $4.2 million, which represents the present value of the cost of the agreement.

 

Home Heating Oil Price Volatility

 

The wholesale price of heating oil, like any other market commodity, is generally set by the economic forces of supply and demand. Rapid global expansion is fueling an ever-increasing demand for oil. Home heating oil prices are closely linked to the price refiners pay for crude oil because crude oil is the principal cost component of home heating oil. Crude oil is bought and sold in the international marketplace and as such is subject to the economic forces of supply and demand worldwide. The United States imports more than 60% of the petroleum products it consumes. The wholesale cost of home heating oil as measured by the New York Mercantile Exchange (“Nymex”) at September 30, 2005, 2004 and 2003 was $2.06, $1.39 and $0.78, respectively

 

The current marketplace for petroleum products including home heating oil has been extremely volatile. In a volatile market even small changes in supply or demand can dramatically affect prices. The changes we have seen this past year and continue to experience have been significant. Heating oil prices are subject to price fluctuations if demand rises sharply because of excessively cold weather and/or disruptions at refineries and instability in key oil producing regions. Ultimately, increases in wholesale prices are, in most instances, borne by our customers. Because of these high prices we have experienced increased attrition in our customer base and a decrease in heating oil volume sold per customer (“conservation”). For fiscal 2005, over 75% of our revenue is attributable to the retail sale and delivery of home heating oil. About half of our retail sales of home heating oil are to customers who agree to pay a fixed or maximum price per gallon for each delivery over the next twelve months (protected price customers). The remaining retail sales are to customers that pay a variable price based principally on the daily spot price plus our profit margin.

 

We mitigate our exposure to our price protected customers in a volatile market by hedging our fixed and maximum price sales through the purchase of exchange traded options and futures, and over the counter options and swaps, and we mitigate our exposure to variable priced customers, in most instances, by passing through higher home heating oil costs directly to such customers.

 

Customer attrition

 

Net customer attrition is the difference between gross customer losses and customers added through marketing efforts. Customers added through acquisitions are not included in the calculation of net customer attrition. The gain of a new customer does not fully compensate for the loss of an existing customer during the first year because of the expenses that must be incurred to acquire a new customer and the higher attrition rate associated with new customers. Gross customer losses are the result of a number of factors, including price competition, move-outs, and service issues. When a customer moves out of an existing home we count the “move out” as a loss and if we are successful in signing up the new homeowner, the “move in” is treated as a gain.

 

Gross customer gains and gross customer losses for fiscal 2003, 2004 and 2005 is found below:

 

     Fiscal Year Ended

 

Description


   2003

    2004

    2005

 

Gross Customer Gains

   71,800     67,400     63,800  

Gross Customer Losses

   (78,800 )   (100,500 )   (98,900 )
    

 

 

Net Customer Loss

   (7,000 )   (33,100 )   (35,100 )
    

 

 

 

Net customer attrition as a percent of the home heating oil customer base for fiscal 2003, 2004, and 2005 is found below:

 

     Fiscal Year Ended

 

Description


   2003

    2004

    2005

 

Gross Customer Gains

   14.9 %   13.1 %   12.9 %

Gross Customer Losses

   (16.4 )%   (19.5 )%   (20.0 )%
    

 

 

Net Customer Attrition

   (1.5 )%   (6.4 )%   (7.1 )%
    

 

 

 

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Net home heating oil customers accounts added (lost) for fiscal 2003, 2004, and 2005 by quarter is as follows:

 

Quarter Ended


   Fiscal 2003

    Fiscal 2004

    Fiscal 2005

 

December 31

   3,500     (3,300 )   (2,000 )

March 31

   (3,700 )   (8,600 )   (9,900 )

June 30

   (5,900 )   (10,300 )   (7,400 )

September 30

   (900 )   (10,900 )   (15,800 )
    

 

 

TOTAL

   (7,000 )   (33,100 )   (35,100 )
    

 

 

 

We experienced net customer attrition of 7.1% in fiscal 2005. This compares to net attrition of 6.4% and 1.5% in fiscal 2004 and 2003, respectively. This increase in net customer attrition for both fiscal 2004 and 2005 can be attributed to: (i) a combination of the effect of our premium service/premium price strategy during a volatile period when customer price sensitivity increased due to high energy prices; (ii) our decision in fiscal 2005 to maintain reasonable profit margins going forward in spite of competitors’ aggressive pricing tactics; (iii) the lag effect of customer attrition related to service and delivery problems experienced in prior fiscal years; (iv) continued customer dissatisfaction with the centralization of customer care; and (v) tightened customer credit standards.

 

If wholesale prices remain high, we believe the risk of customer losses due to credit problems, especially for commercial customers, may increase and bad debt expense will also increase. We have continued to experience net customer attrition during fiscal 2006. For the period from October 1 to November 30, 2005 we lost 4,315 accounts (net ) or 0.9% of our home heating oil customer base as compared to the period from October 1 to November 30, 2004 in which we gained 530 accounts (net) or 0.1% of our customer base.

 

For fiscal 2005, we lost approximately 35,100 accounts (net) or 2,000 more than the 33,100 accounts (net) lost in fiscal 2004. This increased loss of 2,000 accounts is largely due to the factors described above as well as losses of fixed price accounts that were renewed at a low fixed price in the summer and fall of 2004, as the heating oil segment, in an attempt to retain customers, did not raise prices sufficiently to offset the increase in the cost of home heating oil and which chose not to renew at higher prices in fiscal 2005. During the three months ended September 30, 2005, we lost 15,800 accounts (net) or 3.2% of our home heating oil customer base, as compared to the three months ended September 30, 2004 in which we lost 10,900 accounts (net) or 2.1% of its home heating oil customer base. This increased loss of 4,900 accounts is largely due to losses attributable to accounts that were renewed at a low fixed price in the summer and fall of 2004 and who chose not to renew at higher prices in fiscal 2005. We cannot predict whether this trend will continue. Over the past several months, we have modified our marketing plan and are seeking to increase the home heating oil product margins realized on new accounts as well as some of our less profitable accounts. We anticipate that while this program could improve net income and lower marketing expenses, fewer new accounts will likely be added which will result in higher net customer attrition in the near term.

 

Prior to the fiscal 2004 winter heating season, we attempted to develop a competitive advantage in customer service through a business process redesign project and, as part of that effort, centralized our heating equipment service and oil dispatch functions and engaged a centralized customer care center to fulfill our telephone requirements for a majority of our home heating oil customers. We experienced difficulties in advancing this initiative during fiscal 2004, which adversely impacted the customer base and our costs. The savings from this initiative were less than expected and the costs to operate under the centralized format were greater than originally estimated.

 

The 6.4% net customer attrition rate in fiscal 2004 was higher than the rate experienced in fiscal 2003 and higher than in the preceding several years. For fiscal 2003, before the full implementation of the business process and redesign project and before the increase in the wholesale price of home heating oil, we experienced annual net customer attrition of 1.5%.

 

We believe we have identified the problems associated with our centralization efforts and have addressed these issues by structuring the customer call center (that we sometimes refer to in this Annual Report as the customer care center) into work groups that parallel Petro’s district structure, adding customer retention specialists at the district level, answering a portion of customer calls in two districts, providing continuous in-house training at the customer care center, and establishing a general manager of customer retention. The general manager of customer retention reports directly to the President. Despite these efforts, we continued to experience high net attrition rates in 2005, and we expect that high net attrition rates may continue through fiscal 2006 and perhaps beyond. Even to the extent that the rate of attrition may be halted, the current reduced customer base will adversely impact net income in the future.

 

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The quantitative factors we use to measure the effectiveness of the customer care center and field operations – such as customer satisfaction scores, telephone waiting times and abandonment rates at the customer care center, oil delivery run-outs and heating equipment repair and maintenance response times – have improved meaningfully during fiscal 2005, as compared to the same periods in fiscal 2004 and fiscal 2003.

 

Operating expense/control

 

We have implemented a series of cost reduction initiatives in fiscal 2005 including facility consolidations, the reduction of non-essential personnel and the reduction and re-evaluation of certain marketing programs. We believe this will be an ongoing process over the next several months as we continue to review our operating expenses. We believe that operating expenses have been reduced by approximately $10.0 million at the heating oil segment and by approximately $1.3 million at the partners’ level. A portion of these expense reductions were realized during fiscal 2005 and the remainder are expected to be realized in fiscal 2006. In addition, a wage freeze has been implemented for senior management in fiscal 2006.

 

We renewed our officers’ and directors’ insurance for the policy year beginning April 2005. The annual premium is $2.7 million and represents an increase of $2.2 million over the prior year’s policy.

 

Recapitalization

 

On December 2, 2005 the board of directors of Star Gas LLC approved a strategic recapitalization of Star Gas Partners that, if approved by unitholders and completed, would result in a reduction in the outstanding amount of our 101/4% Senior Notes due 2013 ( “Senior Notes”), of between approximately $87 million and $100 million.

 

The recapitalization includes a commitment by Kestrel Energy Partners, LLC (or “Kestrel”) and its affiliates to purchase $15 million of new equity capital and provide a standby commitment in a $35 million rights offering to our common unitholders, at a price of $2.00 per common unit. We would utilize the $50 million in new equity financing, together with an additional $10 million to $23.1 million from operations, to repurchase at least $60 million in face amount of our Senior Notes and, at our option, up to approximately $73.1 million of Senior Notes. In addition, certain noteholders have agreed to convert approximately $26.9 million in face amount of Senior Notes into newly issued common units at a conversion price of $2.00 per unit in connection with the closing of the recapitalization.

 

We have entered into agreements with the holders of approximately 94% in principal amount of our Senior Notes which provide that: the noteholders commit to, and will, tender their Senior Notes at par (i) for a pro rata portion of $60 million or, at our option, up to approximately $73.1 million in cash, (ii) in exchange for approximately 13,434,000 new common units at a conversion price of $2.00 per unit (which new units would be acquired by exchanging approximately $26.9 million in face amount of Senior Notes) and (iii) in exchange for new notes representing the remaining face amount of the tendered notes. The principle terms of the new senior notes, such as the term and interest rate are the same as the Senior Notes. The closing of the tender offer is conditioned upon the closing of the transactions under the Kestrel unit purchase agreement, which is discussed below. Upon closing the transaction we will incur a gain or loss on the exchange of Senior Notes for common units based on the difference between the $2.00 per unit conversion price and the fair value per unit represented by the per unit price in the open market on the conversion date.

 

Subject to and until the transaction closing, the noteholders have agreed not to accelerate indebtedness due under the senior notes or initiate any litigation or proceeding with respect to the Senior Notes. The noteholders have further agreed to: waive any default under the indenture; not to tender the Senior Notes in the change of control offer which will be required to be made following the closing of the transactions under the unit purchase agreement with Kestrel; and to consent to certain amendments to the existing indenture. The agreement with the noteholders further provides for the termination of its provisions in the event that the Kestrel unit purchase agreement is no longer in effect. The understandings and agreements contemplated by these transactions will terminate if the transaction does not close prior to April 30, 2006.

 

We believe the proposed recapitalization would substantially strengthen our balance sheet and thereby assist us in meeting our liquidity and capital requirements, which we believe would improve our future financial performance and as a result enhance unitholder value. In addition to enhancing unitholder value, we believe we will be able to operate more efficiently going forward with less long-term debt.

 

As part of the recapitalization transaction, we have entered into a definitive unit purchase agreement with Kestrel and its affiliates, which provides for, among other things: the receipt by us of $50 million in new equity financing through the issuance to Kestrel’s affiliates of 7,500,000 common units at $2.00 per unit for an aggregate of $15 million and the issuance of an additional 17,500,000 common units in a rights offering to our common unitholders at an exercise price of $2.00 per unit for an aggregate of $35 million. The rights will be non-transferable, and an affiliate of Kestrel has agreed to buy any common units not subscribed for in the rights offering. Under the terms of the unit purchase agreement, Kestrel Heat, LLC, or Kestrel Heat, a wholly owned subsidiary of Kestrel, will become our new general partner and Star Gas LLC, our current general partner, will receive no consideration for its removal as general partner.

 

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In addition, the unit purchase agreement provides for the adoption of a second amended and restated agreement of limited partnership that will, among other matters:

 

    provide for the mandatory conversion of each outstanding senior subordinated unit and junior subordinated unit into one common unit;

 

    change the minimum quarterly distribution to the common units from $0.575 per quarter, or $2.30 per year, to $0.0675 per unit, or $0.27 per year, which shall commence accruing October 1, 2008; and, eliminate all previously accrued cumulative distribution arrearages which aggregated $92.5 million at November 30, 2005;

 

    suspend all distributions of available cash by us through the fiscal quarter ending September 30, 2008;

 

    reallocate the incentive distribution rights so that, commencing October 1, 2008, the new general partner units in the aggregate will be entitled to receive 10% of the available cash distributed once $.0675 per quarter, or $0.27 per year, has been distributed to common units and general partner units and 20% of the available cash distributed in excess of $0.1125 per quarter, or $.45 per year, provided there are no arrearages in minimum quarterly distributions at the time of such distribution (under our current partnership agreement if quarterly distributions of available cash exceed certain target levels, the senior subordinated units, junior subordinated units and general partner units would receive an increased percentage of distributions, resulting in their receiving a greater amount on a per unit basis than the common units).

 

The recapitalization is subject to certain closing conditions including, the approval of our unitholders, approval of the lenders under our revolving credit facility, and the successful completion of the tender offer for our Senior Notes.

 

As a result of the challenging financial and operating conditions that we have experienced since fiscal 2004, we have not been able to generate sufficient available cash from operations to pay the minimum quarterly distribution of $0.575 per unit on our partnership securities. These conditions led to the suspension of distributions on our senior subordinated units, junior subordinated units and general partner units on July 29, 2004 and to the suspension of distributions on the common units on October 18, 2004.

 

We believe that the proposed amendments to our partnership agreement will simplify our capital structure, provide internally generated funds for future investment and align the minimum quarterly distribution more closely with the levels of available cash from operations that we expect to generate in the future.

 

Kestrel is a private equity investment firm formed by Yorktown Energy Partners VI, L.P., Paul A. Vermylen, Jr. and other investors. Yorktown Energy Partners VI, L.P. is a New York-based private equity investment partnership, which makes investments in companies engaged in the energy industry. Yorktown affiliates and Mr. Vermylen were investors in Meenan Oil Co. L.P. from 1983 to 2001, during which time Mr. Vermylen served as President of Meenan. Meenan was sold to us in 2001.

 

It is possible that the units purchased as part of the recapitalization transaction or units purchased by one or more than one 5% unitholder would trigger an IRC Section 382 limitation relating to certain net operating loss carryforwards. An ownership change occurs for purposes of Section 382 when there is a direct or indirect sale or exchange of more than 50% by one or more than one 5% shareholders. If an ownership change has occurred in accordance with Section 382, future limitations in the utilization of net operating losses could be significant. It is possible that the Partnership’s subsidiary, Star/Petro, Inc., will not be able to use any of its currently existing net income tax loss carry forwards in the future.

 

Business Outlook Fiscal 2006

 

We expect our business to continue to be affected by the following key trends. Our expectations are based on assumptions made by us, and information currently available to us. To the extent our underlying assumptions about or interpretations of available information prove to be incorrect, our actual results may vary materially from our estimated results.

 

We face numerous challenges in fiscal 2006. In particular, it will be difficult to stem the high attrition rates and continued customer conservation that we are currently experiencing, primarily as a result of a volatile and consistently high heating oil commodity market.

 

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Based on our outlook we expect increased global demand for oil and gas in fiscal 2006, particularly as a result of emerging energy consumers such as China and India. This resultant increase in demand may support relatively high heating oil commodity prices.

 

We believe that our efforts to decentralize a portion of our current service operations by redirecting a portion of our customer calls and empowering our local branches will provide benefits in stemming attrition rates in 2006. In addition, we believe our cost control programs coupled with our increasing discipline in hedging rising commodity price risk for our customer price protected contracts and continued philosophy of maintaining reasonable margins in spite of competitors’ aggressive price tactics should mitigate some of the negative impact associated with the continued high heating oil prices in fiscal 2006. As a result we anticipate that our per-gallon margin may improve over our margins earned in fiscal 2005.

 

We believe the proposed recapitalization , as described above, if approved by our unitholders and completed, will substantially strengthen our balance sheet and thereby assist us in meeting our liquidity and capital requirements, which we believe will improve our future financial performance and as a result enhance unitholder value. In addition to enhancing unitholder value, we believe we will be able to operate more efficiently going forward with less long-term debt.

 

In the latter part of fiscal 2006, we intend to pursue asset acquisitions, to the extent permitted in our credit facility, in demographic areas that will enable us to realize margins we consider reasonable in the face of aggressive localized price competition as one way to replace volume lost through attrition. In addition, we may dispose of operations in markets where we are not able to effectively employ our strategy of maintaining reasonable margins. We anticipate using this cash flow, in part, to the extent permitted under our credit facility and MLP Notes, to fund anticipated acquisitions.

 

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Fiscal Year Ended September 30, 2005 (Fiscal 2005)

Compared to Fiscal Year Ended September 30, 2004 (Fiscal 2004)

Statements of Operations by Segment

 

     Fiscal 2004 (1)

    Fiscal 2005 (1)

 

(in thousands)

 

   Heating Oil

    Partners &
Others


    Consol.

    Heating Oil

    Partners &
Others


    Consol.

 

Statements of Operations

                                                

Sales:

                                                

Product

   $ 921,443     $ —       $ 921,443     $ 1,071,270     $ —       $ 1,071,270  

Installations and service

     183,648       —         183,648       188,208       —         188,208  
    


 


 


 


 


 


Total sales

     1,105,091       —         1,105,091       1,259,478       —         1,259,478  

Cost and expenses:

                                                

Cost of product

     594,153       —         594,153       786,349       —         786,349  

Cost of installations and service

     204,902               204,902       197,430       —         197,430  

Delivery and branch expenses

     232,985       —         232,985       231,581       —         231,581  

Depreciation & amortization expenses

     37,313       —         37,313       35,480       —         35,480  

General and administrative

     16,535       3,402       19,937       17,376       26,042       43,418  

Goodwill impairment charge

     —         —         —         67,000       —         67,000  
    


 


 


 


 


 


Operating income (loss)

     19,203       (3,402 )     15,801       (75,738 )     (26,042 )     (101,780 )

Net interest expense

     28,038       8,644       36,682       21,780       10,058       31,838  

Amortization of debt issuance costs

     2,750       730       3,480       1,718       822       2,540  

Loss on redemption of debt

     —         —         —         24,192       17,890       42,082  
    


 


 


 


 


 


Loss from continuing operations before income taxes

     (11,585 )     (12,776 )     (24,361 )     (123,428 )     (54,812 )     (178,240 )

Income tax expense (benefit)

     1,240       —         1,240       1,756       (1,060 )     696  
    


 


 


 


 


 


Loss from continuing operations

     (12,825 )     (12,776 )     (25,601 )     (125,184 )     (53,752 )     (178,936 )

Income (loss) from discontinued operations

     —         20,276       20,276       —         (4,552 )     (4,552 )

Gain (loss) on sale of segments, net of taxes

     —         (538 )     (538 )     —         157,560       157,560  
    


 


 


 


 


 


Net income (loss)

   $ (12,825 )   $ 6,962     $ (5,863 )   $ (125,184 )   $ 99,256     $ (25,928 )
    


 


 


 


 


 



(1) We completed the sale of our TG&E segment during March 2004 and our propane segment as of November 2004.

 

Volume

 

For fiscal 2005, retail volume of home heating oil decreased 64.3 million gallons, or 11.7%, to 487.3 million gallons, as compared to 551.6 million gallons for fiscal 2004. Volume of other petroleum products declined by 7.6 million gallons, or 9.3%, to 73.5 million gallons for fiscal 2005, as compared to 81.1 million gallons for fiscal 2004. An analysis of the change in retail volume of home heating oil, which is based on management’s estimates, sampling, and other mathematical calculations (as actual customer consumption patters cannot be precisely determined) is found below:

 

(in millions of gallons)

 

  

Heating Oil

Segment


 

Volume – Fiscal 2004

   551.6  

Impact of colder temperatures

   4.2  

Impact of acquisitions

   3.2  

Net customer attrition

   (39.0 )

Conservation

   (24.5 )

Delivery scheduling

   (6.0 )

Other

   (2.2 )
    

Change

   (64.3 )
    

Volume – Fiscal 2005

   487.3  
    

 

We believe that the 64.3 million gallon decline in home heating oil volume was due to net customer attrition, which occurred during fiscal 2004 and fiscal 2005, conservation, delivery scheduling, and other factors partially offset by acquisitions. Total degree days in the heating oil segment’s geographic areas of operations were approximately 0.9% greater in fiscal 2005 than in fiscal 2004 and approximately 0.5% greater than normal, as reported by the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (“NOAA”). Due to the significant increase in the price per gallon of home heating oil during the year, we believe that customers are using less home heating oil given similar temperatures. Indications based on internal studies suggest that our customers have reduced their consumption by approximately 4.4%. We cannot determine if conservation is a permanent or temporary phenomenon. In addition, we estimate that

 

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during fiscal 2005, home heating oil volume was reduced by 6.0 million gallons due to a delivery scheduling variance. We believe that home heating oil volume sold in fiscal 2006 may be substantially less than in fiscal 2005 due to customer attrition, conservation and other factors such as warmer temperatures.

 

Product Sales

 

For fiscal 2005, product sales increased $149.8 million, or 16.3%, to $1.071 billion, as compared to $921.4 million for fiscal 2004, as increases in selling prices more than offset a decline in product sales due to lower volume sold. Selling prices during fiscal 2005 were higher due to the increase in wholesale supply costs. Average wholesale supply costs were $1.40 per gallon for fiscal 2005, as compared to $0.94 per gallon for fiscal 2004. The weighted average selling price per gallon was $1.91 per gallon in fiscal 2005 compared to $1.46 in fiscal 2004.

 

Installation, Service and Other Sales

 

For fiscal 2005, installation, service and other sales increased $4.6 million, or 2.5%, to $188.2 million compared to $183.6 million in fiscal 2004, as a decline in installation and other sales of $2.8 million was offset by an increase in service revenues of $7.4 million. Over the last several years, the heating oil segment has taken proactive measures, such as modifying service plans and billing strategies, in order to maximize service revenue.

 

Cost of Product

 

For fiscal 2005, cost of product increased $192.2 million, or 32.3%, to $786.3 million, compared to $594.2 million for fiscal 2004. This is the result of an increase in the heating oil segment’s average wholesale product cost of $0.46 per gallon, or 49%, to an average of $1.40 per gallon for fiscal 2005, from an average of $0.94 per gallon for fiscal 2004. In an effort to reduce net customer attrition, we delayed increasing our selling price to certain customers whose price plan agreements expired during the July to September 2004 time period. This decision negatively impacted gross profit by an estimated $2.8 million in fiscal 2005, primarily during the first quarter of fiscal 2005.

 

During fiscal 2005, product cost was adversely impacted by $3.4 million due to a delay in hedging the price of product for certain residential protected price customers due to cash constraints under our previous credit agreement. Cost of product was also adversely impacted by $1.6 million associated with not hedging the price of product for certain residential price protected customers that were incorrectly coded as variable customers. This coding error was corrected in December 2004. Home heating oil per gallon margins for the year ended September 30, 2005 declined by 1.3 cents per gallon, compared to fiscal 2004 due to an increase in the percentage of volume sold to lower margin residential price protected customers, the delay in increasing the selling price to customers whose price plans expired during the July to September 2004 time period and the aforementioned hedging issues concerning price protected customers. Gross profit from product sales decreased $38.2 million in fiscal 2005 due to the margins associated with lower sales volume and $4.2 million due to lower per gallon margins (which includes $2.8 million delay in price increases previously described) for the volume sold in fiscal 2005 compared to fiscal 2004.

 

Our customer base is comprised of three types of customers, residential variable, residential protected price and commercial/industrial. The selling price for a residential variable customer generally has the highest per gallon gross profit margin. In an effort to retain existing customers and attract new customers, we have offered and currently are offering discounts that negatively impact the average per gallon gross profit margins. Currently, these discounts are being offered to residential variable and price protected customers. Over time, we will try to reduce these discounts and increase the per gallon gross profit margin. If we are not successful in reducing these discounts, per gallon gross profit margins may further decline. Due to the greater price sensitivity of residential protected price customers, the per gallon margins realized from that customer segment generally are less than variable priced residential customers. Commercial/industrial customers are characterized as large volume users and contribute the lowest per gallon margin.

 

The percentage of home heating oil volume sold to residential protected price customers increased to approximately 48% of total home heating oil volume sales during fiscal 2005, as compared to 43% for fiscal 2004. Accordingly, the percentage of home heating oil volume sold to residential variable customers decreased to approximately 36% for fiscal 2005, as compared to 40% for fiscal 2004. During fiscal 2005, sales to commercial/industrial customers represented approximately 16% of total home heating oil volume sales, unchanged from fiscal 2004. Rising energy costs have increased consumer interest in price protection. If wholesale supply costs remain volatile and/or at historically high levels, per gallon profit margins and results could continue to be adversely impacted.

 

Cost of Installations and Service

 

For fiscal 2005, cost of installations and service decreased $7.5 million, or 3.6%, to $197.4 million, as compared to $204.9 million for fiscal 2004. This reduction was due to a lower level of variable installation costs of $2.0 million attributable to the lower level of installation sales and a $5.5 million decline in service expenses. Service expenses decreased due to a contraction in costs resulting from servicing a smaller customer base, warmer temperatures during the peak heating season, which reduced the frequency of service calls, and an improvement in the scheduling of preventative maintenance service calls which lowered overtime hours. The loss realized from service (including installations) improved by $12.1 million from a $21.3 million loss for fiscal 2004 to a $9.2 million loss for fiscal 2005. When measured on a per gallon of home heating oil sold basis, the loss from service improved by 2.0 cents per gallon from 3.9 cents per gallon for fiscal 2004 to 1.9 cents for fiscal 2005.

 

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Delivery and Branch Expenses

 

For fiscal 2005, delivery and branch expenses decreased $1.4 million or 0.6% to $231.6 million compared to $233.0 million of expenses incurred in fiscal 2004. Bad debt expense, credit card processing fees and collection expenses all increased, primarily due to the increase in product sales dollars. Delivery costs were also higher due to the rise in vehicle fuel costs. In total, delivery and branch expenses increased by $4.9 million due to the increase in bad debt expense, credit card processing fees, collection expenses, and fuel costs. Delivery and branch expenses also increased by approximately $5.9 million due to wage and benefit increases. These delivery and branch expense increases were offset by a reduction in operating costs due to the variable nature of certain delivery and operating expenses such as direct delivery expense, which decreased with lower volume. On a cents per gallon basis, operating costs increased 5.3 cents per gallon, or 12.6%, from 42.2 cents per gallon for fiscal 2004 to 47.5 cents per gallon for fiscal 2005. The 5.3 cent per gallon increase was due to higher bad debt and collection expenses, wage and benefit increases, and the inability to reduce certain fixed expenses commensurate with a reduction in home heating oil volume of 11.7%.

 

Depreciation and Amortization

 

For fiscal 2005, depreciation and amortization expenses declined by $1.8 million, or 4.9%, to $35.5 million, as compared to $37.3 million for fiscal 2004 as certain assets, which were not replaced, became fully depreciated.

 

General and Administrative Expenses

 

During fiscal 2005, general and administrative expenses increased by $23.5 million, or 117.8%, to $43.4 million, compared to $19.9 million for fiscal 2004. At the partners’ level, general and administrative expenses increased $22.6 million from $3.4 million in fiscal 2004 to $26.0 million in fiscal 2005 due to $7.5 million in bridge financing fees, $4.4 million of legal expenses incurred relating to defending several purported class action lawsuits, legal and professional fees associated with exploring several refinancing alternatives, legal expense attributable to inquiries from regulatory agencies, an increase in officers and directors insurance of $1.1 million, $4.1 million in expenses for compliance with Sarbanes-Oxley, $3.8 million in expense relating to separation agreements entered into with the former Chief Executive Officer, Chief Financial Officer, and Chief Marketing Officer of the Partnership, and $1.7 million higher compensation expense associated with unit appreciation rights. (In fiscal 2004 and fiscal 2005, the decline in the unit price for senior subordinated units resulted in reversing previously recorded expenses of $3.9 million and $2.2 million, respectively.) The separation agreement with Irik Sevin, the former CEO ($3.1 million), was fully accrued during fiscal 2005 and will be paid over an extended period of time. At the heating oil segment, general and administrative expenses increased by $0.8 million, or 5.1%, to $17.4 million for the fiscal 2005, compared to $16.5 million for fiscal 2004. This increase was due primarily to $3.4 million of expenses and fees associated with certain bank amendments and waivers on our previous credit facility obtained during the first fiscal quarter of 2005, offset in part by lower business process improvement expenses of $1.4 million and a reduction in compensation and benefit expense of $1.2 million.

 

Goodwill Impairment Charge

 

During the second quarter of fiscal 2005, a number of events occurred that indicated a possible impairment of goodwill might exist. These events included our determination in February 2005 of significantly lower than expected operating results for fiscal 2005 and a significant decline in the Partnership’s unit price. As a result of these triggering events and circumstances, we completed an interim SFAS No. 142 impairment review with the assistance of a third party valuation firm as of February 28, 2005. This review resulted in a non-cash goodwill impairment charge of approximately $67.0 million, which reduced the carrying amount of goodwill of the heating oil segment.

 

Operating Income (Loss)

 

For fiscal 2005, operating income decreased $117.6 million to a loss of $101.8 million, compared to $15.8 million in operating income for fiscal 2004. The decrease in our operating income in fiscal 2005 is the result of a $67.0 million non-cash goodwill impairment charge, as described above, lower margin from the sale of petroleum products of $42.4 million, increases in general and administrative expense totaling $23.5 million offset in part by an increase in service profitability of $12.1 million, decreases in branch and delivery expenses of $1.4 million and depreciation and amortization of $1.8 million.

 

Interest Expense

 

During fiscal 2005, interest expense decreased $3.9 million, or 9.8%, to $36.2 million, compared to $40.1 million for fiscal 2004. This change was due to the impact of lower average debt outstanding offset by an increase in our weighted average interest rate during fiscal 2005. Total debt outstanding declined because a portion of the proceeds from the propane sale, were used in part to repay debt at the heating oil segment. Average working capital borrowings were higher in fiscal 2005 due principally to the increase in wholesale product cost.

 

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Interest Income

 

During fiscal 2005, interest income increased by $0.9 million, or 27.3%, to $4.3 million, compared to $3.4 million for fiscal 2004 due principally to higher average invested cash balances.

 

Amortization of Debt Issuance Costs

 

For fiscal 2005, amortization of debt issuance costs decreased $0.9 million, or 27.0%, to $2.5 million, compared to $3.5 million for fiscal 2004.

 

Loss on Redemption of Debt

 

During the first quarter of fiscal 2005, we recorded a loss of $42.1 million on the early redemption of certain notes at the heating oil and propane segments. The loss consisted of cash premiums paid of $37.0 million for early redemption, the write-off of previously capitalized net deferred financing costs of $6.1 million and legal expenses of $0.7 million, reduced in part by the realization of the unamortized portion of a $1.7 million basis adjustment to the carrying value of long-term debt.

 

Income Tax Expense (Benefit)

 

Income tax expense for fiscal 2005 was approximately $0.7 million compared to $1.2 million in fiscal 2004. The decrease of approximately $0.5 million is the result of increases in state capital taxes of $0.5 million in fiscal 2005 which is more than offset by $1.0 million in tax benefits that were fully utilized against taxes associated with the gain on the sale of the propane segment.

 

Income (Loss) From Continuing Operations

 

For fiscal 2005 the loss from continuing operations increased $153.3 million to a loss of $178.9 million, compared to a loss of $25.6 million for fiscal 2004, as the decline in operating income of $117.6 million and the loss on the redemption of debt of $42.1 million were reduced by lower interest expense of $3.9 million, higher interest income of $0.9 million, lower amortization of debt issuance costs of $0.9 million and a decrease in income tax expense of $0.5 million.

 

Income (Loss) From Discontinued Operations

 

For fiscal 2005, income from discontinued operations decreased $24.8 million. Income from the discontinued propane segment, which was sold on December 17, 2004, generated $19.4 million in net income for fiscal 2004 and a net loss of $4.6 million for fiscal 2005. The discontinued TG&E segment was sold on March 31, 2004 and generated net income of $0.9 million for fiscal 2004.

 

Gain on Sales of Discontinued Operations

 

During fiscal 2005, the purchase price for the TG&E segment was finalized and a positive adjustment of $0.8 million was recorded. In addition, during fiscal 2005, we recorded a gain on the sale of the propane segment totaling approximately $156.8 million, which is net of income taxes of $1.3 million.

 

Net loss

 

For fiscal 2005, the net loss increased $20.0 million to a net loss of $25.9 million, compared to a net loss of $5.9 million incurred in fiscal 2004, as the decline in operating income (loss) from continuing operations of $153.3 million, and the reduction in income from discontinued operations of $24.8 million was partially offset by the gain on the sale of the propane segment and TG&E segment of $157.6 million.

 

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Earnings From Continuing Operations Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation and Amortization (EBITDA)

 

For fiscal 2005, EBITDA decreased $161.5 million to an EBIDTA loss of $108.4 million, as compared to $53.1 million in EBITDA for fiscal 2004. This decrease was due to a non-cash goodwill impairment charge of $67.0 million, the recording of a $42.1 million loss on the redemption of debt, a reduction in gross profit of $42.4 million due to lower sales volume resulting from net customer attrition, conservation and lower gross profit margins from product sales, bridge facility fees, bank amendment fees, and legal fees totaling $15.3 million, $3.8 million in compensation expense relating to severance agreements with former executives, and $4.1 million for compliance with Sarbanes-Oxley, offset in part by a $12.1 million increase in service profitability and lower branch expenses and business process improvement costs. EBITDA should not be considered as an alternative to net income (as an indicator of operating performance) or as an alternative to cash flow (as a measure of liquidity or ability to service debt obligations), but provides additional information for evaluating our ability to make the minimum quarterly distribution. EBITDA is calculated for the fiscal years ended September 30 as follows:

 

     Fiscal Year Ended September 30,

 

(in thousands)

 

   2004

    2005

 

Loss from continuing operations

   $ (25,601 )   $ (178,936 )

Plus:

                

Income tax expense

     1,240       696  

Amortization of debt issuance costs

     3,480       2,540  

Interest expense, net

     36,682       31,838  

Depreciation and amortization

     37,313       35,480  
    


 


EBITDA

     53,114       (108,382 )

Add/(subtract)

                

Income tax expense

     (1,240 )     (696 )

Interest expense, net

     (36,682 )     (31,838 )

Unit compensation expense (income)

     (4,382 )     (2,185 )

Provision for losses on accounts receivable

     7,646       9,817  

Gain on sales of fixed assets, net

     (281 )     (43 )

Goodwill impairment charge

     —         67,000  

Loss on redemption of debt

     —         42,082  

Loss on derivative instruments, net

     1,673       2,144  

Change in operating assets and liabilities

     (6,179 )     (32,814 )
    


 


Net cash provided by (used in) operating activities

   $ 13,669     $ (54,915 )
    


 


 

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Fiscal Year Ended September 30, 2004 (Fiscal 2004)

Compared to Fiscal Year Ended September 30, 2003 (Fiscal 2003)

 

Statements of Operations by Segment

 

     Fiscal 2003 (1)

    Fiscal 2004 (1)

 

(in thousands)

 

   Heating Oil

    Partners
& Others


    Consol.

    Heating Oil

    Partners
& Others


    Consol.

 

Statements of Operations

                                                

Sales:

                                                

Product

   $ 934,967     $ —       $ 934,967     $ 921,443     $ —       $ 921,443  

Installations and service

     168,001       —         168,001       183,648       —         183,648  
    


 


 


 


 


 


Total sales

     1,102,968       —         1,102,968       1,105,091       —         1,105,091  

Cost and expenses:

                                                

Cost of product

     598,397       —         598,397       594,153       —         594,153  

Cost of installations and service

     195,146       —         195,146       204,902       —         204,902  

Delivery and branch expenses

     217,244       —         217,244       232,985       —         232,985  

Depreciation & amortization expenses

     35,535       —         35,535       37,313       —         37,313  

General and administrative

     22,356       17,407       39,763       16,535       3,402       19,937  
    


 


 


 


 


 


Operating income (loss)

     34,290       (17,407 )     16,883       19,203       (3,402 )     15,801  

Net interest expense

     22,760       6,770       29,530       28,038       8,644       36,682  

Amortization of debt issuance costs

     1,655       383       2,038       2,750       730       3,480  

Gain on redemption of debt

     (212 )     —         (212 )     —         —         —    
    


 


 


 


 


 


Income (loss) from continuing operations before income taxes

     10,087       (24,560 )     (14,473 )     (11,585 )     (12,776 )     (24,361 )

Income tax expense

     1,200       —         1,200       1,240       —         1,240  
    


 


 


 


 


 


Income (loss) from continuing operations

     8,887       (24,560 )     (15,673 )     (12,825 )     (12,776 )     (25,601 )

Income (loss) from discontinued operations

     —         19,786       19,786       —         20,276       20,276  

Loss on sale of segment, net of taxes

     —         —         —         —         (538 )     (538 )

Cumulative effect of change in accounting principle for discontinued operations adoption of SFAS No. 142

     —         (3,901 )     (3,901 )     —         —         —    
    


 


 


 


 


 


Net income (loss)

   $ 8,887     $ (8,675 )   $ 212     $ (12,825 )   $ 6,962     $ (5,863 )
    


 


 


 


 


 



(1) The Partnership completed the sale of its TG&E segment during March 2004 and its propane segment as of November 2004. See Note 4.

 

Volume

 

For fiscal 2004, retail volume of home heating oil decreased 15.4 million gallons, or 2.7%, to 551.6 million gallons, as compared to 567 million gallons for fiscal 2003. An analysis of the change in retail volume of home heating oil, which is based on management’s estimates, sampling, and other mathematical calculations (as actual customer consumption patterns cannot be precisely determined) is found below.

 

(in millions of gallons)

 

   Heating Oil
Segment


 

Volume – Fiscal 2003

   567.0  

Impact of warmer temperatures

   (43.9 )

Impact of acquisitions

   36.1  

Net customer attrition

   (18.2 )

Other

   10.6  
    

Change

   (15.4 )
    

Volume – Fiscal 2004

   551.6  
    

 

We believe that this 15.4 million gallon decline at the heating oil segment was due to the impact of warmer temperatures and net customer attrition partially offset by acquisitions and other volume changes. Net customer attrition is the difference between gross customer losses and customers added through internal marketing efforts. Customers added through acquisitions do not impact the calculation of net attrition. Temperatures in the heating oil segment’s geographic areas of operations were 7.7% warmer in fiscal 2004 than in fiscal 2003 and approximately 0.2% warmer than normal as reported by the NOAA.

 

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At September 30, 2004, after adjusting for acquisitions, the heating oil segment estimated that it had approximately 6.4% fewer home heating oil customers than as of September 30, 2003. For the quarter ended September 30, 2004, the heating oil segment (excluding acquisitions) lost approximately 10,900 customers (net) as compared to the quarter ended September 30, 2003, in which the heating oil segment lost approximately 900 customers (net). We believe that net customer attrition is the result of various factors including but not limited to price, service and credit. The continued rise in the price of heating oil, especially during the fourth quarter of fiscal 2004, added to the heating oil segment’s difficulties in reducing customer attrition. We believe that the unprecedented rise in heating oil prices has increased the competitive pressures facing our heating oil segment. As wholesale prices have risen, many of our competitors have not raised their retail prices to fully offset the wholesale price rise. In an effort to minimize the loss of customers to price competition, we did not increase our prices to fully offset for the rise in wholesale prices, resulting in reduced margins. Nevertheless, many of our competitors appear to have succeeded in inducing some of our customers to leave through various price-related strategies.

 

In addition, prior to the 2004 winter heating season, we attempted to develop a competitive advantage in customer service and, as part of that effort, we experienced difficulties in centralizing our heating equipment service dispatch and engaged a centralized customer care center to respond to telephone inquiries. The implementation of that initiative has taken longer than we anticipated, impacting customer service. We believe that the rate of customer loss in fiscal 2004 was due to a combination of higher energy prices, operational and customer service problems together with the implementation of stricter customer credit requirements towards the end of fiscal 2004.

 

Product Sales

 

For fiscal 2004, product sales declined by $13.5 million, or 1.4%, to $921.4 million, as compared to $935.0 million in fiscal 2003. While warmer temperatures and customer losses at the heating oil segment led to a reduction in product sales, the decline was partially offset by an increase in product sales attributable to acquisitions and higher selling prices.

 

Sales, Installations and Service

 

For fiscal 2004, installation, service and appliance sales increased $15.6 million, or 9.3%, to $183.6 million, as compared to $168.0 million for fiscal 2003 due to acquisitions and measures taken in the last several years to increase service revenues.

 

Cost of Product

 

For fiscal 2004, cost of product declined by $4.2 million, or 0.7%, to $594.2 million, as compared to $598.4 million in fiscal 2003, as the impact of net customer attrition and warmer temperatures exceeded wholesale cost increases and the additional product requirement for acquisitions.

 

While selling prices and wholesale prices increased on a per gallon basis, the increase in selling prices exceeded the increase in supply costs during the first nine months of fiscal 2004. At September 30, 2004, heating oil supply costs were approximately 38% higher than at June 30, 2004. During the three months ended September 30, 2004, we were not able to fully pass these increases on to our respective customers. As a result, per gallon margins for the three months ended September 30, 2004 declined by 2.3 cents per gallon at the heating oil segment, as compared to the three months ended September 30, 2003, which partially offset per gallon margin increases that the heating oil segment experienced earlier in the year. The per gallon margins realized in the heating oil segment for the three months ended September 30, 2004 were significantly less than expected. For fiscal 2004, per gallon margin increases were realized in the base business compared to fiscal 2003 (excluding the impact of acquisitions) of 0.8 cents per gallon.

 

Cost of Installations, Service and Appliances

 

For fiscal 2004, cost of installations, service and appliances increased $9.8 million, or 5.0%, to $204.9 million in fiscal 2004, as compared to $195.1 million in fiscal 2003. This change was primarily due to acquisitions and wage and other cost increases.

 

Delivery and Branch Expenses

 

For fiscal 2004, delivery and branch expenses increased $15.7 million, or 7.2%, to $233.0 million, as compared to $217.2 million in fiscal 2003. This increase of $15.7 million was due to a higher level of fixed and variable operating costs attributable to acquisitions, (primarily those completed in eastern Pennsylvania) of $10.1 million and approximately $6.3 million due to operating and wage increases. These increases in delivery and branch expenses were partially reduced by cost reductions relating to lower volume delivered due to warmer temperatures and net customer attrition experienced in fiscal 2004. Prior to the 2004 winter heating season, we attempted to develop a competitive advantage in customer service, and as part of that effort centralized our heating equipment service dispatch functions and engaged a centralized call center to respond to telephone inquiries. Start-up challenges associated with this initiative impacted the customer base and unanticipated training and support was required. The expected savings from this initiative were less than expected.

 

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Depreciation and Amortization

 

For fiscal 2004, depreciation and amortization expenses increased approximately $1.8 million, or 5%, to $37.3 million, as compared to $35.5 million for fiscal 2003. This increase was primarily due to a larger depreciable base of assets, as a result of the impact of acquisitions in fiscal 2004 and to increased depreciation resulting from the technology investment made by the heating oil segment in centralizing its customer service and dispatcher functions.

 

General and Administrative Expenses

 

For fiscal 2004, general and administrative expenses declined approximately $20 million, or 50%, to $19.9 million, as compared to $39.8 million for fiscal 2003. At the partners’ level, general and administrative expenses declined by $14.0 million from $17.4 million in fiscal 2003 to $3.4 million in fiscal 2004, due to a $10.4 million reduction in the expense for compensation earned for unit appreciation rights on the Partnership’s senior subordinated units, a $2.5 million reduction in restricted stock awards and a reduction of $1.4 million in bonus compensation expense. For fiscal 2004, partners’ expenses totaled $3.4 million, which included $2.5 million in salary expense and bonus, $4.9 million in legal and administrative costs, partially offset by a credit of $4.0 million for unit appreciation rights. For fiscal 2003, partners’ expenses totaled $17.4 million, which included $3.4 million in salary and bonus expense, $9.0 million in unit appreciation rights and restricted stock awards expense and $5.0 million in legal and administrative costs. At the heating oil segment, general and administrative expenses declined by $5.8 million, or 26.0%, to $16.5 million in fiscal 2004 from $22.4 million in fiscal 2003. This decline was due to a reduction in certain expenses relating to the heating oil segment’s centralized customer service and dispatch project of $7.0 million. The reduction in general and administrative expenses at the heating oil segment was partially offset by $1.2 million in additional expenses due to severance paid and a higher level of legal and professional expenses.

 

Operating Income (Loss)

 

For fiscal 2004, operating income decreased approximately $1.1 million, or 6.5%, to $15.8 million, as compared to $16.9 million for fiscal 2003. At the partners’ level, the operating loss decreased by $14.0 million from a $17.4 million loss in fiscal 2003 to a $3.4 million loss in fiscal 2004 due to a $10.4 million reduction in the accrual for compensation earned for unit appreciation rights on the Partnership’s senior subordinated units, lower restricted stock awards of $2.5 million and lower bonus compensation expense of $1.4 million. At the heating oil segment, operating income declined by $15.1 million, or 44.0%, to $19.2 million, as compared to $34.3 million for fiscal 2003. This decline was due to warmer temperatures of 7.7% in the heating oil segment’s geographic areas of operations in fiscal 2004 than in fiscal 2003, net customer attrition, operating and wage increases and higher depreciation and amortization expense, which were reduced in part by the operating income attributable to acquisitions, an increase in per gallon gross profit margins of the base business, lower expenses associated with the heating oil segment’s centralized customer service and dispatch project and increased service revenues.

 

Interest Expense

 

For fiscal 2004, interest expense increased $6.7 million, or 20%, to $40 million, as compared to $33.3 million for fiscal 2003. This increase was due to higher principal amount of long-term debt outstanding and an increase in the weighted average interest rate during fiscal 2004, as compared to fiscal 2003.

 

Amortization of Debt Issuance Costs

 

For fiscal 2004, amortization of debt issuance costs increased $1.4 million, or 66.7%, to $3.5 million, as compared to $2.1 million for fiscal 2003. This increase was largely due to the amortization of debt issuance costs for the Partnership’s $265.0 million senior notes offerings and for the amortization of bank fees incurred in connection with refinancing certain bank facilities.

 

Income Tax Expense

 

Income tax expense for fiscal 2004 was $1.2 million and represents certain state income taxes. The amount recorded in fiscal 2004 was unchanged from fiscal 2003.

 

Income (Loss) From Continuing Operations

 

For fiscal 2004, income (loss) from continuing operations decreased $9.9 million, to a loss of $25.6 million, as compared to a loss of $15.7 million for fiscal 2003. This decline was due to a $21.7 million decrease in income at the heating oil segment offset by $12.9 million in lower losses at the partners’ level. Income (loss) from continuing operations declined as the effects of warmer temperatures, other volume changes, including customer losses, operating and wage increases and an increase in interest expense were partially offset by the positive impacts of acquisitions, improved per gallon gross profit margins on the base business and lower compensation expenses at the partners’ level of $14.3 million in the form of unit appreciation rights, restricted stock awards and bonus expense.

 

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Income From Discontinued Operations

 

For fiscal 2004, income from discontinued operations increased $0.5 million from $19.8 million in 2003 to $20.3 million in 2004. This income relates to the operating results of the TG&E segment that was sold on March 31, 2004 and the propane segment sold on December 17, 2004. Net income attributable to the TG&E segment decreased $0.3 million and net income attributable to the propane segment increased $0.8 million. The TG&E segment includes operations for six months of the fiscal year ended September 30, 2004 and the propane segment includes operations for the entire 2004 fiscal year. Propane segment sales increased approximately $70 million, operating income decreased approximately $1.5 million, and net income increased approximately $0.8 million. The increase in sales is attributable to higher selling prices due to the higher wholesale cost of propane and to a lesser extent an increased customer base resulting from acquisitions. The decrease in operating income is principally due to higher product costs as a result of the higher wholesale cost of propane.

 

Loss On Sale of TG&E Segment

 

For fiscal 2004, we recorded a $0.5 million loss on the sale of the TG&E segment. TG&E was sold in March 2004.

 

Cumulative Effect of Change in Accounting Principle

 

For fiscal 2003, we recorded a $3.9 million charge arising from the adoption of Statement No. 142 to reflect the impairment of its goodwill for TG&E.

 

Net Income (loss)

 

For fiscal 2004, net income (loss) decreased $6.1 million, to a loss of $5.9 million, as compared to $0.2 million in income for fiscal 2003. The change was due to a $9.9 million decrease in income from continuing operations, a $0.5 million increase in income from discontinued operations and the $0.5 million loss on the sale of TG&E. Net income was also impacted by the adoption of SFAS No. 142, which resulted in a charge of $3.9 million in fiscal 2003.

 

Liquidity and Capital Resources

 

Our ability to satisfy our obligations will depend on our future performance, which will be subject to prevailing economic, financial, business and weather conditions, the ability to pass on the full impact of high wholesale heating oil prices to customers, the effects of high customer attrition, conservation and other factors, most of which are beyond our control. See “Risk Factors”. Capital requirements, at least in the near term, are expected to be provided by cash flows from operating activities, cash on hand at September 30, 2005 or a combination thereof. To the extent future capital requirements exceed cash flows from operating activities, we anticipate that working capital will be financed by our revolving credit facility as discussed below and repaid from subsequent seasonal reductions in inventory and accounts receivable and the utilization of the Excess Proceeds from the sale of the propane segment for any purpose permitted by its debt instruments. We also believe that we will able to reduce our peak inventory levels, which will positively impact our liquidity. See “Recapitalization”

 

Operating Activities

 

For fiscal 2005, net cash used in operating activities was $54.9 million or $68.6 million less than net cash provided by operating activities of $13.7 million for fiscal 2004 due to the following factors. At September 30, 2005, accounts receivable (before the allowance for doubtful accounts) were $13.8 million higher than at September 30, 2004 and accounts receivable at September 30, 2004 were $6.1 million higher than at September 30, 2003 due to higher per gallon selling prices resulting from the continuing increase in the wholesale cost of home heating oil throughout this two-year period. As a result of the change in accounts receivable in fiscal 2005 when compared to fiscal 2004, cash flow from operating activities was reduced by $7.7 million. Higher per gallon wholesale heating oil costs and additional volume on hand resulted in a higher inventory balance as of September 30, 2005 than September 30, 2004 and a higher inventory balance as of September 30, 2004 than September 30, 2003. As a result, cash provided by operating activities was reduced by $8.2 million in fiscal 2005 when compared to fiscal 2004 due to the change in inventory. Operating activities were adversely impacted by the loss of trade credit. Prior to October 18, 2004, we were able to purchase a portion of our home heating oil under terms extended by suppliers, which averaged approximately two to three days. Currently, heating oil suppliers are not extending trade credit to the heating oil segment and the heating oil segment must prepay for its supply. The loss of trade credit reduced cash flow from operating activities by $11.1 million in 2005. The decline in operating income of $117.6 million described elsewhere in this report (which included a non-cash impairment charge of $67.0 million and approximately $19.4 million in costs associated with legal and professional fees in connection with class action lawsuits, compliance with Sarbanes-Oxley, bank refinancing and bank fees) contributed to the decline in cash from operating activities.

 

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Investing Activities

 

During fiscal 2005, we completed the sale of the propane segment. The net proceeds, after deducting expenses, were approximately $466.4 million. In addition, we also finalized the sale of TG&E and recorded an additional $0.8 million in proceeds. During fiscal 2005, the heating oil segment spent $3.2 million for capital expenditures and received proceeds from the sale of certain assets of $3.4 million. As a result, cash flow provided by investing activities was $467.4 million. For fiscal 2004, cash flows provided by investing activities were $6.4 million as the heating oil segment received $1.5 million from the sale of certain assets, spent $4.0 million for capital expenditures, completed acquisitions totaling $3.5 million and received $12.5 million in cash from the sale of the TG&E segment.

 

Financing Activities

 

Cash flows used in financing activities were $306.7 million for fiscal 2005. During this period, $292.2 million of cash was provided from borrowings under the heating oil segment’s new revolving credit facility ($181.2 million) and previous credit facility ($111.0 million), which were used to repay $119.0 million borrowed under our previous credit facility and $174.6 million borrowed under our new credit facility. Also during fiscal 2005, we repaid $259.6 million in long-term debt, paid $37.7 million in debt prepayment premiums and expenses and $8.0 million in fees and expenses related to refinancing the heating oil segment’s new bank credit facilities.

 

As a result of the above activity and $11.4 million of cash used by discontinued operations, cash increased by $94.5 million, to $99.1 million as of September 30, 2005.

 

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Financing and Sources of Liquidity

 

We had $268.2 million of debt outstanding as of September 30, 2005 (excluding working capital borrowings of $6.6 million). The following summarizes our long-term debt maturities occurring over the next five years as of September 30, 2005:

 

     (in millions)

2006

   $ 0.8

2007

   $ 0.1

2008

   $ —  

2009

   $ —  

2010

   $ —  

Thereafter

   $ 267.3

 

On December 17, 2004, we entered into a $260 million asset based revolving credit facility with a group of lenders led by JP Morgan Chase Bank, which was amended in November 2005. The revolving credit facility provides the heating oil segment with the ability to borrow up to $260 million for working capital purposes (subject to certain borrowing base limitations and coverage ratios) including the issuance of up to $75 million in letters of credit. From December through March of each year, the heating oil segment can borrow up to $310.0 million. Obligations under the revolving credit facility are secured by liens on substantially all of the assets of the heating oil segment, including accounts receivable, inventory, general intangibles, real property, fixtures and equipment.

 

Under the terms of the revolving credit facility, we must maintain at all times either availability (borrowing base less amounts borrowed and letters of credit issued) of $25.0 million or a fixed charge coverage ratio (as defined in the credit agreement) of not less than 1.1 to 1.0. As of September 30, 2005, availability was $74.6 million and the fixed charge coverage ratio (as defined in the credit agreement) was 0.56 to 1.0. This $25 million represents a reduction in availability. We do not anticipate maintaining a fixed charge coverage ratio of 1.1 to 1.0 or greater in the foreseeable future.

 

In December 2004, we completed the sale of our propane segment. Pursuant to the terms of the indenture relating to the MLP Notes, we are permitted, within 360 days of the sale, to apply the Net Proceeds to a Permitted Use. To the extent there are any Excess Proceeds, the indenture requires the Partnership to make an offer to all holders of MLP Notes to purchase for cash that number of MLP Notes that may be purchased with Excess Proceeds at a purchase price equal to 100% of the principal amount of the MLP Notes plus accrued and unpaid interest to the date of purchase.

 

After repayment of certain debt and transaction expenses and estimated taxes paid of $1.0 million, the Net Proceeds from the propane segment sale were approximately $156.3 million. As of September 30, 2005, the heating oil segment had utilized $53.1 million of such Net Proceeds to invest in working capital assets, purchase capital assets and repay long-term debt, which reduced the amount of Net Proceeds in excess of $10 million not applied toward a permitted use to $93.2 million as of September 30, 2005. At September 30, 2005, the amount of Excess Proceeds totaled $93.2 million. As of December 2, 2005 all Excess Proceeds were applied toward a Permitted Use. See “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition on Results of Operations—Summary of Significant Events and Developments—MLP Notes.”

 

As of September 30, 2005 total liquidity resources including proceeds from the sale of the propane segment, were $148.8 million. Total liquidity resources reflect the availability of $74.6 million, less minimum availability of $25.0 million, plus cash of $99.2 million, subject to the requirements of the indenture for the MLP Notes. We expect total liquidity resources to decline through the first and second quarters of fiscal 2006 as we fund working capital requirements for the heating oil season. As we have indicated, we are in the process of evaluating our near-term and longer-term liquidity position and capital structure.

 

Availability under our revolving credit facility could be significantly impacted by our current hedging strategy. We enter into various hedging arrangements to manage the majority of our exposure to market risk related to changes in the current and future market price of home heating oil purchased for resale to our protected price customers. Futures contracts are marked to market on a daily basis and require an initial cash margin deposit and potentially require a daily adjustment to such cash deposit (maintenance margin). For example, assuming 64 million gallons, based on the volume hedged under the fixed price program as of September 30, 2005, a 10 cent per gallon decline in the market value of these hedged instruments would create an additional cash margin requirement of approximately $6.4 million, (while a 10 cent per gallon increase in market value would provide $6.4 million in available margin). In this example, availability in the short-term is reduced, as we fund the margin call. This availability reduction should be temporary, as we should be able to purchase product at a later date for 10 cents a gallon less than the anticipated strike price when the agreement with the price-protected customer was entered into. In addition, a spike in wholesale heating oil prices could also reduce availability, as we must finance a portion of our inventory and accounts receivable with internally generated cash as the net advance for eligible accounts receivable is 85% and 40% to 80% of eligible inventory. We may also borrow up to $35 million against fixed assets and customer lists, which is reduced by $7.0 million each year over the life of the agreement. In addition, due to our current credit position, the ability to execute certain over-the-counter hedging strategies, which do not require margin adjustments, has been curtailed.

 

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At any given time, the volume hedged under our price-protected program will be less than the expected volume to be sold annually under this program as the renewals for this program are staggered throughout the year. For example, the hedged balance remaining at September 30, 2005 for a price protection arrangement entered into in January 2005 will represent approximately 25% of the customer’s annual consumption. We hedge home heating oil volume for fixed price customers at the time they renew their protected price contract. For example, if a protected price customer’s contract expires in July 2005 and the customer does not renew its contract until October 2005, this customer becomes a variable price customer until the time that he/she renews their contract, and as such there would not be a hedge in place at September 30, 2005 for the purchase of this customer’s anticipated volume usage. We would hedge the anticipated volume in October 2005 at the time of the customer’s contract renewal.

 

As of September 30, 2005, the accounts receivable net of allowances totaled $89.7 million, which represents an increase of $5.7 million when compared to the balance as of September 30, 2004 of $84.0 million. Our ability to collect these receivables over the upcoming months will impact our borrowing base availability, as the borrowing base, which is used to measure availability, does not include accounts receivable over 60 days past due. At September 30, 2005 accounts receivable over 60 days past due were approximately $19.8 million compared to $18.2 million as of September 30, 2004 or an increase of $1.6 million. A component of accounts receivable at September 30, 2005 represent amounts due from customers under a budget payment plan, which permits a customer to pay their annual consumption ratably over the year. As of September 30, 2005, the aggregate amount due from budget customers over 60 days past due whose billings exceeded their payments was $3.5 million, compared to $1.9 million at September 30, 2004. This increase of $1.6 million is primarily due to the increase in the per-gallon selling price of home heating oil. In addition, we have $4.4 million of accounts over 60 days past due at September 30, 2005 for certain commercial accounts, compared to $2.7 million at September 30, 2004.

 

Prior to October 18, 2004, we were generally able to obtain trade credit from home heating oil suppliers of two to three business days. Since October 18, 2004, we must now prepay for our heating oil supply by at least two days. The loss of trade credit has reduced availability. Availability is also negatively impacted by outstanding letters of credit. As of September 30, 2005, $47.3 million in letters of credit have been issued, primarily for current and future insurance reserves. In fiscal 2006, we expect to issue an additional $6.0 million in letters of credit in connection with our insurance renewal.

 

For the majority of our fiscal year, the amount of cash received from customers with a budget payment plan is greater than actual billings. This amount is reflected on the balance sheet under the caption “customer credit balances.” At September 30, 2005, customer credit balances aggregated $65.3 million. Generally, customer credit balances are at their low point after the end of the heating season and peak prior to the beginning of the heating season. At September 30, 2004, customer credit balances were $53.9 million. During the non-heating season, cash is provided from customer credit balances to fund operating activities. If net receipts from budget customers are reduced, cash availability in the non-heating season will be reduced and we will need to borrow under the revolving credit facility to fund operations.

 

Before August 2006, we must implement certain changes to ensure compliance with amended Environmental Protection Agency regulations. We currently estimate that the capital required to effectuate these requirements will range from $1.0 to $1.5 million. Annual maintenance capital expenditures are estimated to be approximately $3.0 million, excluding the capital requirements for environmental compliance.

 

In general, the Partnership has distributed to its partners on a quarterly basis, all Available Cash . Available Cash is defined for any of the Partnership’s fiscal quarters, as all cash on hand at the end of that quarter, less the amount of cash reserves that are necessary or appropriate in the reasonable discretion of the general partner to (i) provide for the proper conduct of the business; (ii) comply with applicable law, any of its debt instruments or other agreements; or (iii) provide funds for distributions to the common unitholders and the senior subordinated unitholders during the next four quarters, in some circumstances. On October 18, 2004, we announced that we would not pay a distribution on the common units. We had previously announced the suspension of distributions on the senior subordinated units on July 29, 2004. The Partnership did not pay distributions on any of its outstanding units in fiscal 2005. It is unlikely that regular distributions on the common units or senior subordinated units will be resumed in the foreseeable future. While we hope to position ourself to pay some regular distribution on our common units in future years, of which there can be no assurance, it is considerably less likely that regular distributions will ever resume on the senior subordinated units because of their subordination terms and the existing arrearages on our common units. The revolving credit facility and the indenture for the MLP Notes both impose certain restrictions on our ability to pay distributions to unitholders. It is unlikely that regular distributions on the common units or senior subordinated units will be resumed in the foreseeable future. See “Recapitalization”

 

Contractual Obligations and Off-Balance Sheet Arrangements

 

We have no special purpose entities or off balance sheet debt, other than operating leases entered into in the ordinary course of business, as fully disclosed in Note 14 to the consolidated financial statements.

 

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Long-term contractual obligations, except for our long-term debt obligations, are not recorded in our consolidated balance sheet. Non-cancelable purchase obligations are obligations we incur during the normal course of business, based on projected needs.

 

The table below summarizes the payment schedule of our contractual obligations at September 30, 2005 (in thousands):

 

     Payments Due by Year

     Total

   Less Than
1 Year


   1 - 3
Years


   3 - 5
Years


   More Than
5 Years


Long-term debt obligations (a)

   $ 267,417    $ —      $ 95    $ —      $ 267,322

Use of Excess Proceeds

     93,161      93,161      —        —        —  

Operating lease obligations (b)

     47,457      9,155      13,205      10,070      15,027

Purchase obligations (c)

     16,645      9,695      5,449      1,461      40

Interest obligations Senior Notes (d)

     200,324      27,163      54,325      54,325      64,511
    

  

  

  

  

     $ 625,004    $ 139,174    $ 73,074    $ 65,856    $ 346,900
    

  

  

  

  


(a) Excludes current maturities of long-term debt of $0.8 million, which are classified within current liabilities.
(b) Represents various operating leases for office space, trucks, vans and other equipment from third parties with lease terms running from one day to 20 years.
(c) Reflects non-cancelable commitments as of September 30, 2005.
(d) Reflects 10 1/4% interest obligations on our $265,000,000 Senior Notes due February 2013.

 

Recent Accounting Pronouncements

 

In December 2004, the FASB issued Statement No. 123 (revised 2004), “Share-Based Payment” (“SFAS No. 123R”). SFAS No. 123R, which is effective for the first annual period beginning after June 15, 2005 SFAS No. 123 requires all share-based payments to employees, including grants of stock options, to be recognized in the financial statements based on their fair values. In addition, two transition alternatives are permitted at the time of adoption of this statement. Currently, we account for unit appreciation rights and other unit based compensation arrangements using the intrinsic value method under the provisions of APB 25. We will be required to adopt SFAS No. 123R effective October 1, 2005. In March 2005, the SEC issued Staff Accounting Bulletin No. 107 (“SAB 107”) regarding the SEC’s interpretation of SFAS No. 123R. We are currently evaluating the requirements of SFAS No. 123R and SAB 107. We have not yet determined the method of adoption or the effect of adopting SFAS No. 123R. However, we believe that of SFAS No. 123R will not have a material adverse effect on our results of operations, financial position or liquidity, upon adoption.

 

In May 2005, the FASB issued Statement No. 154, “Accounting Changes and Error Corrections” (“SFAS No. 154”), which is effective for accounting changes and corrections of errors made in fiscal years beginning after December 15, 2005. We are required to adopt SFAS No. 154 in fiscal 2007. SFAS No. 154 provides guidance for and reporting of accounting changes and error corrections. It states that retrospective application, or the latest practicable date, is the required method for reporting a change in accounting principle and the reporting of a correction of an error. Our results of operations and financial condition will only be impacted following the adoption of SFAS No. 154 if we implement changes in accounting principle that are addressed by the standard or correct accounting errors in future periods.

 

Critical Accounting Estimates

 

The preparation of financial statements in conformity with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles requires management to establish accounting policies and make estimates and assumptions that affect reported amounts of assets and liabilities at the date of the Consolidated Financial Statements. Star Gas evaluates its policies and estimates on an on-going basis. The Partnership’s Consolidated Financial Statements may differ based upon different estimates and assumptions. The Partnership’s critical accounting estimates have been reviewed with the Audit Committee of the Board of Directors.

 

Our significant accounting policies are discussed in Note 3 to the consolidated financial statements. We believe the following are our critical accounting policies and estimates:

 

Goodwill and Other Intangible Assets

 

We calculate amortization using the straight-line method over periods ranging from five to ten years for intangible assets with definite useful lives. We use amortization methods and determine asset values based on our best estimates using reasonable and supportable assumptions and projections. We assess the useful lives of intangible assets based on the estimated period over which we will receive

 

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benefit from such intangible assets such as historical evidence regarding customer churn rate. In some cases, the estimated useful lives are based on contractual terms. At September 30, 2005, we had $82.3 million of net intangible assets subject to amortization. If circumstances required a change in estimated useful lives of the assets, it could have a material effect on results of operations. For example, if lives were shortened by one year, we estimate that amortization for these assets for fiscal 2005 would have increased by approximately $2.7 million.

 

SFAS No. 142 requires goodwill to be assessed at least annually for impairment. These assessments involve management’s estimates of future cash flows, market trends and other factors to determine the fair value of the reporting unit, which includes the goodwill to be assessed. If the carrying amount of goodwill exceeds its implied fair value and is determined to be impaired, an impairment charge is recorded to write-down goodwill to its fair value. At September 30, 2005, we had $166.5 million of goodwill. Intangible assets with finite lives must be assessed for impairment whenever changes in circumstances indicate that the assets may be impaired. Similar to goodwill, the assessment for impairment requires estimates of future cash flows related to the intangible asset. To the extent the carrying value of the assets exceeds its future undiscounted cash flows, an impairment loss is recorded based on the fair value of the asset. We test the carrying amount of goodwill annually during the fourth quarter of its fiscal year. During the second quarter of fiscal 2005, a number of events occurred that indicated a possible impairment of goodwill of the heating oil segment might exist. These events included: the determination in February 2005 that we could expect to generate significantly lower than expected operating results for the heating oil segment for the year and a significant decline in the Partnership’s unit price. As a result of these triggering events and circumstances, we completed an interim SFAS No. 142 impairment review of the heating oil segment with the assistance of a third party valuation firm as of February 28, 2005. The evaluation utilized both an income and market valuation approach and contained reasonable assumptions and reflected management’s best estimate of projected future cash flows. This review resulted in a non-cash goodwill impairment charge of approximately $67 million, which reduced the carrying amount of goodwill of the heating oil segment. As of August 31, 2005, we performed our annual goodwill impairment valuation for its heating oil segment, with the assistance of a third party valuation firm. Based upon this analysis, we determined that there is no additional goodwill impairment as of August 31, 2005.

 

Depreciation of Property, Plant and Equipment

 

Depreciation is calculated using the straight-line method based on the estimated useful lives of the assets ranging from 1 to 40 years. Net property, plant and equipment was $50.0 million at September 30, 2005. If circumstances required a change in estimated useful lives of the assets, it could have a material effect on results of operations. For example, if the remaining estimated useful lives of these assets were shortened by one year, we estimate that depreciation for fiscal 2005 would have increased by approximately $4.2 million.

 

Fair Values Of Derivatives

 

The fair market value of all derivative instruments is recognized as an asset or liability on our balance sheet. The accounting treatment for the changes in fair value is dependent upon whether or not a derivative instrument is: (i) a cash flow hedge or (ii) a fair value hedge, and upon whether or not the derivative qualifies as an effective hedge. Changes in the fair value of effective cash flow hedges are recognized in accumulated other comprehensive income until the hedged item is recognized in earnings. For fair value hedges, to the extent the hedge is effective there is no effect on the statement of operations as changes in the fair value of the derivative instrument offset changes in the fair value of the hedged item. For derivative instruments that do not qualify, or are not treated as hedge accounting, changes in fair value are recognized currently in earnings.

 

The estimated fair value of our derivative instruments requires judgement on our part. We have established the fair value of our derivative instruments using estimates determined by our counterparties and subsequently evaluated them internally using established index prices and other sources. These values are based upon, among other things, future prices, volatility, time-to-maturity value and credit risk. The values we report in our financial statements change as these estimates are revised to reflect actual results, changes in market conditions, or other factors, many of which are beyond our control. In addition, other factors that can impact results of operations each period is our ability to estimate the level of correlation between changes in the fair value of our hedge instruments and those transactions being hedged (effectiveness) both at inception and on an on-going basis. The factors underlying our estimates of fair value and our assessment of correlation of our commodity hedging derivatives are impacted by actual results and changes in conditions, market and otherwise, which may be beyond our control.

 

Defined Benefit Obligations

 

SFAS No. 87, “Employers’ Accounting for Pensions” as amended by SFAS No. 132 “Employers Disclosure about Pensions and Other Postretirement Benefits” requires the Partnership to make assumptions as to the expected long-term rate of return that could be achieved on defined benefit plan assets and discount rates to determine the present value of the plans’ pension obligations. The Partnership evaluates these critical assumptions at least annually.

 

The discount rate enables the Partnership to state expected future cash flows at a present value on the measurement date. The rate is required to represent the market rate for high-quality fixed income investments. A lower discount rate increases the present value of benefit obligations and increases pension expense. A 25 basis point decrease in the discount rated used for fiscal 2005 would have

 

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increased pension expense by approximately $0.1 million and would have increased the minimum pension liability by another $1.6 million. The discount rate used to determine net periodic pension expense was 5.5% in 2005 and 6.0% in 2003 and 2004. The discount rate used by the Partnership in determining pension expense and pension obligations reflects the yield of high quality (AA or better rating by a recognized rating agency) corporate bonds whose cash flows are expected to match the timing and amounts of future benefit payments. The discount rates to determine net periodic expense used in each of 2003 and 2004 (6.0%) and 2005 (5.50%) reflect the decline in applicable bond yields over the past year.

 

We consider the current and expected asset allocations, as well as historical and expected returns on various categories of plan assets to determine our expected long-term rate of return on pension plan assets. The expected long-term rate of return on assets is developed with input from the Partnership’s qualified actuaries. The long-term rate of return assumption used for determining net periodic pension expense for fiscals 2004 and 2005 was 8.25%. A further 25 basis point decrease in the expected return on assets would have increased pension expense in fiscal 2005 by approximately $0.1 million.

 

Over the life of the plans, both gains and losses have been recognized by the plans in the calculation of annual pension expense. As of September 30, 2005, $19.8 million of unrecognized losses remain to be recognized by the plans. These losses may result in increases in future pension expense as they are recognized.

 

Allowance for Doubtful Accounts

 

We periodically review past due customer accounts receivable balances. After giving consideration to economic conditions, overdue status and other factors, the heating oil segment establishes an allowance for doubtful accounts, which it deems sufficient to cover future potential losses. Actual losses could differ from management’s estimates; however, based on historical experience, we do not expect our estimate of uncollectible accounts to vary significantly from actual losses.

 

Insurance Reserves

 

We currently self-insure a portion of workers’ compensation, auto and general liability claims. We establish reserves based upon expectations as to what our ultimate liability may be for outstanding claims using developmental factors based upon historical claim experience. We periodically evaluate the potential for changes in loss estimates with the support of qualified actuaries. As of September 30, 2005, we had approximately $33.8 million of insurance reserves. The ultimate resolution of these claims could differ materially from the assumptions used to calculate the reserves, which could have a material adverse effect on results of operations.

 

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ITEM 7A. QUANTITATIVE AND QUALITATIVE DISCLOSURES ABOUT MARKET RISK

 

We are exposed to interest rate risk primarily through our bank credit facilities. We utilize these borrowings to meet our working capital needs.

 

At September 30, 2005, we had outstanding borrowings totaling $274.8 million, of which approximately $6.6 million is subject to variable interest rates under our bank credit facilities. In the event that interest rates associated with these facilities were to increase 100 basis points, the impact on future cash flows would be a decrease of less than $0.1 million.

 

We also selectively use derivative financial instruments to manage our exposure to market risk related to changes in the current and future market price of home heating oil. The value of market sensitive derivative instruments is subject to change as a result of movements in market prices. Consistent with the nature of hedging activity, associated unrealized gains and losses would be offset by corresponding decreases or increases in the purchase price we would pay for the home heating oil being hedged. Sensitivity analysis is a technique used to evaluate the impact of hypothetical market value changes. Based on a hypothetical ten percent increase in the cost of product at September 30, 2005, the potential impact on our hedging activity would be to increase the fair market value of these outstanding derivatives by $20.6 million to a fair market value of $55.7 million; and conversely a hypothetical ten percent decrease in the cost of product would decrease the fair market value of these outstanding derivatives by $19.8 million to a fair market value of $15.3 million.

 

ITEM 8. FINANCIAL STATEMENTS AND SUPPLEMENTARY DATA

 

The financial statements and financial statement schedules referred to in the index contained on page F-1 of this report are incorporated herein by reference.

 

ITEM 9. CHANGES IN AND DISAGREEMENTS WITH ACCOUNTANTS ON ACCOUNTING AND FINANCIAL DISCLOSURE

 

NONE

 

ITEM 9A. CONTROLS AND PROCEDURES

 

(a) Evaluation of disclosure controls and procedures.

 

The General Partner’s principal executive officer and its principal financial officer evaluated the effectiveness of the Partnership’s disclosure controls and procedures as of the end of the period covered by this report. Based on that evaluation, such principal executive officer and principal financial officer concluded that the Partnership’s disclosure controls and procedures as of the end of the period covered by this report have been designed and are functioning effectively to provide reasonable assurance that the information required to be disclosed by the Partnership in reports filed under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 is recorded, processed, summarized and reported within the time periods specified in the SEC’s rules and forms.

 

(b) Management’s Report on Internal Control over Financial Reporting.

 

Our management is responsible for establishing and maintaining adequate internal control over financial reporting, as such term in defined in Exchange Act Rules 13a-15(f). Under the supervision of management and with the participation of our management, including our principal executive officer and principal financial officer, we conducted an evaluation of the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting based on the framework in Internal Control – Integrated Framework issued by the Committee of Sponsoring Organizations of the Treadway Commission. Based on our evaluation under the framework in Internal Control – Integrated Framework, our management concluded that our internal control over financial reporting was effective as of September 30, 2005.

 

Our management’s assessment of the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting as of September 30, 2005 has been audited by KPMG LLP, an independent registered public accounting firm, as stated in their report which is included herein.

 

(c) Change in Internal Control over Financial Reporting.

 

No change in the Partnership’s internal control over financial reporting occurred during the Partnership’s most recent fiscal quarter that has materially affected, or is reasonably likely to materially affect the Partnership’s internal control over financial reporting.

 

(d) Other.

 

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The General Partner and the Partnership believe that a control system, no matter how well designed and operated, can not provide absolute assurance that the objectives of the control system are met, and no evaluation of controls can provide absolute assurance that all control issues and instances of fraud, if any, within the Partnership have been determined.

 

ITEM 9B. OTHER INFORMATION

 

Not Applicable

 

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PART III

 

ITEM 10. DIRECTORS AND EXECUTIVE OFFICERS OF THE REGISTRANT

 

Partnership Management

 

Star Gas LLC is the general partner of the Partnership. The membership interests in Star Gas LLC are owned by Audrey L. Sevin, Irik P. Sevin and Hanseatic Americas, Inc. The members holding a majority of interests in the General Partner appoint the directors of the General Partner. A majority of interests in the General Partner are currently held in the aggregate by Irik P. Sevin and his mother, Audrey L. Sevin.

 

On March 7, 2005, the General Partner entered into a voting trust agreement (the “Voting Trust Agreement”) with Irik P. Sevin, in his capacity as a member of the General Partner, and Irik P. Sevin, Stephen Russell and Joseph P. Cavanaugh in their capacities as trustees under the Voting Trust Agreement (the “Voting Trustees”). Pursuant to the Voting Trust Agreement, Mr. Sevin transferred all of his membership interests (representing 15.6363% of the membership interests) in the General Partner to a voting trust for his benefit. Under the terms of the voting trust, these interests will be voted in accordance with the decision of a majority of the Voting Trustees. The voting trust created by the Voting Trust Agreement terminates on the earliest of (i) March 4, 2030, unless extended by further agreement as provided by law, (ii) at any time upon the agreement of all three of the Voting Trustees and the holders of voting trust certificates representing all of the interests in the General Partner that are being held in trust pursuant to the Voting Trust Agreement and (iii) the date upon which the Voting Trust Agreement is required to be terminated in order to comply with applicable law.

 

The General Partner oversees the activities of the Partnership. Unitholders do not directly or indirectly participate in the management or operation of the Partnership. The General Partner owes a fiduciary duty to the unitholders. However, the agreement of the Limited Partners contains provisions that allow the General Partner to take into account the interested of parties other than the Limited Partners in resolving conflict of interest, thereby limiting such fiduciary duty. Notwithstanding any limitation on obligations or duties, the General Partner will be liable, as the general partner of the Partnership, for all debts of the Partnership (to the extent not paid by the Partnership), except to the extent that indebtedness or other obligations incurred by the Partnership are made specifically non-recourse to the General Partner.

 

William P. Nicoletti, Paul Biddelman and Stephen Russell, who are neither officers nor employees of the General Partner nor directors, officers or employees of any affiliate of the General Partner, have been appointed to serve on the Audit Committee of the General Partner’s Board of Directors. The Partnership’s Board of Directors adopted an Audit Committee Charter during fiscal 2003. A copy of this charter is available on the Partnership’s website at www.Star-Gas.com. The Audit Committee has the authority to review, at the request of the General Partner, specific matters as to which the General Partner believes there may be a conflict of interest in order to determine if the resolution of such conflict proposed by the General Partner is fair and reasonable to the Partnership. Any matters approved by the Audit Committee will be conclusively deemed fair and reasonable to the Partnership, approved by all partners of the Partnership and not a breach by the General Partner of any duties it may owe the Partnership or the holders of Partnership units. In addition, the Audit Committee reviews the external financial reporting of the Partnership, selects and engages the Partnership’s independent registered public accountants and approves all non-audit engagements of the independent registered public accountants. With respect to the additional matters, the Audit Committee may act on its own initiative to question the General Partner and, absent the delegation of specific authority by the entire Board of Directors, its recommendations will be advisory.

 

The Board of Directors of the General Partner has adopted a set of Partnership Governance Guidelines in accordance with the requirements of the New York Stock Exchange. A copy of these Guidelines is available on the Partnership’s website at www.Star-Gas.com.

 

As is commonly the case with publicly traded limited partnerships, the General Partner does not directly employ any of the persons responsible for managing or operating the Partnership.

 

Directors and Executive Officers of the General Partner

 

Directors are elected for one-year terms. The following table shows certain information for directors and executive officers of the general partner as of December 12, 2005:

 

Name


 

Age


 

Position with the General Partner


Joseph P. Cavanaugh

  68   Chief Executive Officer, Director

Daniel P. Donovan

  59   President and Chief Operating Officer

Richard F. Ambury

  48   Chief Financial Officer

Paul Biddelman(a)(b)(c)

  59   Director

William P. Nicoletti(c)

  60   Non-Executive Chairman of the Board

Stephen Russell(a)(c)

  65   Director

Irik P. Sevin(b)

  58   Director

(a) Member of the Compensation Committee
(b) Member of the Distribution Committee
(c) Member of the Audit Committee

 

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Joseph P. Cavanaugh has been Chief Executive Officer and a director of Star Gas LLC since March 2005. From December 2004 to March 2005 Mr. Cavanaugh was employed by Inergy, L.P. From March 1999 to December 2004 Mr. Cavanaugh was Chief Executive Officer of the Partnership’s propane segment. From December 1997 to March 1999, Mr. Cavanaugh served as President and Chief Executive Officer of Star Gas Corporation, the predecessor general partner. From October 1979 to December 1997, Mr. Cavanaugh held various financial and management positions with Petro.

 

Daniel P. Donovan has been President of the heating oil segment since May 2004 and President and Chief Operating Officer of Star Gas LLC since March 2005. From January 1980 to May 2004, he held various management positions with Meenan Oil, including Vice President and General Manager. From 1971 to 1980, he worked for Mobil Oil. His last position with Mobil Oil was President and General Manger of its heating oil subsidiary in New York City.

 

Richard F. Ambury has been Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Star Gas LLC since May 2005. From November 2001 to May 2005, Mr. Ambury was Vice President and Treasurer of Star Gas, LLC. From March 1999 to November 2001, Mr. Ambury was Vice President of Star Gas Propane, L.P. From February 1996 to March 1999, Mr. Ambury served as Vice President—Finance of Star Gas Corporation, the predecessor general partner. Mr. Ambury was employed by Petro from June 1983 through February 1996, where he served in various accounting/finance capacities. From 1979 to 1983, Mr. Ambury was employed by a predecessor firm of KPMG, a public accounting firm. Mr. Ambury has been a Certified Public Accountant since 1981.

 

Paul Biddelman has been a Director of Star Gas LLC since March 1999 and was a Director of Star Gas Corporation, the predecessor general partner from December 1993 to March 1999. Mr. Biddelman was a director of Petro from October 1994 until March 1999. Mr. Biddelman has been President of Hanseatic Corporation since December 1997. From April 1992 through December 1997, he was Treasurer of Hanseatic Corporation. Mr. Biddelman is a director of Celadon Group, Inc., Insituform Technologies, Inc., Six Flags, Inc.

 

William P. Nicoletti has been Non-Executive Chairman of the Board of Star Gas LLC since March 2005. Mr. Nicoletti has been a Director of Star Gas LLC since March 1999 and was a Director of Star Gas Corporation, the predecessor general partner from November 1995 until March 1999. He is Managing Director of Nicoletti & Company, Inc., a private investment banking firm. Mr. Nicoletti was formerly a senior officer and head of Energy Investment Banking for E. F. Hutton & Company, Inc., PaineWebber Incorporated and McDonald Investments, Inc. Mr. Nicoletti is a director of MarkWest Energy Partners, L.P. and SPI Petroleum, LLC.

 

Stephen Russell has been a Director of Star Gas LLC since October 1999 and was a director of Petro from July 1996 until March 1999. He has been Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of Celadon Group, Inc., an international transportation company, since its inception in July 1986. Mr. Russell has been a member of the Board of Advisors of the Johnson Graduate School of Management, Cornell University since 1983.

 

Irik P. Sevin has been a Director of Star Gas LLC since March 1999. From March 1999 until March 2005 Mr. Sevin was Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of Star Gas LLC and was President from November 2003 until March 2005. From December 1993 to March 1999, Mr. Sevin served as Chairman of the Board of Directors of Star Gas Corporation, the predecessor general partner. Mr. Sevin has been a Director of Petro since its organization in October 1979, and Chairman of the Board of Petro since January 1993 and served as President of Petro from 1979 through January 1997.

 

Meetings and Compensation of Directors

 

During fiscal 2005, the Board of Directors met 26 times. All Directors attended each meeting except that Mr. Russell did not attend two meetings. Each non-management Director receives an annual fee of $27,000 plus $1,500 for each regular meeting attended and $750 for each telephonic meeting attended. The Chairman of the Audit Committee receives an annual fee of $12,000 while other Audit Committees members receive an annual fee of $6,000. The Chairman of the Compensation Committee receives an annual fee of $6,000 while other non-management members of the Compensation Committee and Distribution Committee receive an annual fee of $3,000. Each member of the Audit Committee receives $1,500 for every regular meeting attended and $750 for every telephonic meeting attended. Each non-management member of the Compensation Committee and Distribution Committee receives $1,000 for each regular meeting attended and $500 for each telephonic meeting attended. In October 2004, a Special Committee of the Board of Directors was established for purposes of reviewing the sale of the propane segment. The members of this Committee received a one-time fee of $100,000 each plus $1,500 for each regular meeting attended and $750 for each telephonic meeting. See “Special Committee” below. Effective March 7, 2005 the Non-Executive Chairman of the Board receives an annual fee of $120,000.

 

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In lieu of director fees, Messrs. Biddelman, Nicoletti and Russell each was granted 2,709 senior subordinated unit appreciation rights during fiscal 2003. Each of these directors forfeited $4,200 of director fees to obtain these rights. The Unit Appreciation Rights vested in three equal installments on October 1, 2002, October 1, 2003 and October 1, 2004. The grantee will be entitled to receive payment in cash for these UARs on October 1, 2005 (subject to deferral to a date no later than October 1, 2007) equal to the excess of the fair market value of a Senior Subordinated Unit on the respective vesting dates over the strike price of $10.70. The Partnership may elect to deliver senior subordinated units in satisfaction of this payment rather than cash, subject to complying with applicable securities regulations. These units were granted under the same program as units granted to the Chief Executive Officer and other certain named executives – see Item 11 – Executive Compensation.

 

Committees of the Board of Directors

 

Star Gas LLC’s Board of Directors has three standing committees; an Audit Committee, a Compensation Committee and a Distribution Committee. The members of each such committee are appointed by the Board of Directors for a one-year term and until their respective successors are elected. The Board of Directors has also appointed a Special Committee in connection with the sale of the propane segment, which is discussed below.

 

Audit Committee

 

The duties of the Audit Committee are described above under “Partnership Management.”

 

The current members of the Audit Committee are William P. Nicoletti, Paul Biddelman and Stephen Russell. During fiscal 2005, the audit committee met 11 times. Members of the Audit Committee may not be employees of Star Gas LLC or its affiliated companies and must otherwise meet the New York Stock Exchange and SEC independence requirements for service on the Audit Committee. The Board of Directors has determined that Messrs. Nicoletti, Biddelman and Russell are independent directors in that they do not have any material relationships with the Partnership (either directly, or as a partner, shareholder or officer of an organization that has a relationship with the Partnership) and they otherwise meet the independence requirements of the NYSE and the SEC. The Partnership’s Board of Director’s has determined that Mr. Biddelman, the Chairman of the Audit Committee, meets the definition of an Audit Committee financial expert under applicable SEC and NYSE regulations.

 

Compensation Committee

 

The current members of the Compensation Committee are Paul Biddelman and Stephen Russell. Mr. Russell was appointed as a member of the Compensation Committee in December 2004. Pursuant to resolutions adopted by the Board of Directors, effective as of October 1, 2003, the Chief Executive Officer has the authority to recommend (other than with respect to himself) and the Compensation Committee the authority to set: (i) the general compensation policies of the Partnership and any of the Partnership’s subsidiaries or subsidiary partnerships, its general partner or other affiliates whose cost is borne directly or indirectly by the Partnership; (ii) the terms of compensation plans and compensation levels for officers of the Partnership; (iii) the salary and bonus ranges for officers of the Partnership, including the performance criteria and target compensation on all performance-based compensation plans or programs and the specific amounts within those ranges; (iv) the terms of any equity or equity-linked securities to be granted to any employee or director of the Partnership; and (v) the accruals to be utilized in the financial statements related to such compensation.

 

Distribution Committee

 

The current members of the Distribution Committee are Irik Sevin and Paul Biddelman. The duties of the Distribution Committee are to discuss and review, and recommend to the Board of Directors, the Partnership’s distributions. During fiscal 2005, the Distribution Committee did not meet.

 

Special Committee

 

In October 2004, the Board of Directors established a special committee of two independent directors (Messrs. Nicoletti and Russell) to exercise all power and authority of the Board of Directors in examining the fairness to the nonaffiliated unitholders of the Partnership taken as a whole, of the consideration to be received by the Partnership from any sale, merger or other similar transaction involving the propane assets and business of the Partnership.

 

Reimbursement of Expenses of the General Partner

 

The General Partner does not receive any management fee or other compensation for its management of Star Gas Partners. The General Partner is reimbursed for all expenses incurred on the behalf of Star Gas Partners, including the cost of compensation, which is properly allocable to Star Gas Partners. The partnership agreement provides that the General Partner shall determine the expenses that are allocable to Star Gas Partners in any reasonable manner determined by the General Partner in its sole discretion. In addition, the General Partner and its affiliates may provide services to Star Gas Partners for which a reasonable fee would be charged as determined by the General Partner.

 

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Adoption of Code of Ethics

 

The Partnership has adopted a written code of ethics that applies to the Partnership’s officers, directors and employees. A copy of the Code of Ethics is available on the Partnership’s website at www.Star-Gas.com or a copy may be obtained without charge, by contacting Richard F. Ambury, (203) 328-7300.

 

Non-Management Directors

 

The non-management directors on the Board of Directors of the general partner are Messrs. Sevin, Biddelman, Nicoletti and Russell. Mr. Nicoletti also serves as the Non-Executive Chairman of the Board. Unitholders interested in contacting the Chairman of the Board or the non-management directors as a group may do so by contacting William P. Nicoletti c/o Star Gas L.P., 2187 Atlantic Street, Stamford, CT, 06902.

 

Officer Certification Requirements

 

The Partnership’s chief executive officer submitted to the NYSE the CEO certification required pursuant to Section 303A, 12(a) of the NYSE rules for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2004.

 

This annual report on Form 10-K includes as exhibits the certifications of the Partnership’s chief executive officer and chief financial officer required under Section 302 and Section 906 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 and the rules and regulations promulgated thereunder.

 

ITEM 11. EXECUTIVE COMPENSATION

 

The following table sets forth the annual salary, bonuses and all other compensation awards and payouts to the Chief Executive Officer and to the named executive officers for services rendered to Star Gas and its subsidiaries during the fiscal years ended September 30, 2003, 2004 and 2005.

 

Name and Principal Position


  

Year


  

Summary Compensation Table

Annual Compensation


   

Restricted
Stock
Awards


  

Long-Term

Compensation


      Salary

    Bonus

   

Other

Annual
Compensation


       Securities
Underlying
UARs


  

All

Other
Compensation


Irik P. Sevin,

   2005    $ 345,417     $ —       $ 6,560,094 (1)   $            

Director (2)

   2004    $ 650,000     $ —       $ $65,736 (3)          77,419     
   2003    $ 505,000 (4)   $ 985,200 (5)     14,600 (6)          77,419     

Ami Trauber,

Chief Financial Officer (8)

   2005    $ 223,430     $ —       $ 295,821 (7)                
   2004    $ 370,800     $ —       $ 12,201 (6)          46,452     
   2003    $ 298,800 (4)   $ 272,550 (5)   $ 11,762 (6)          46,452     

Joseph P. Cavanaugh,

Chief Executive Officer (11)

   2005    $ 189,000     $ 1,140,894 (9)   $ 9,910 (10)                
   2004    $ 267,800     $ —       $ 494,169 (10)                
   2003    $ 267,800     $ 268,060 (5)   $ 18,768 (10)                

David A. Shinnebarger,

Executive Vice President (12)

   2005    $ 195,983     $ —       $ 250,673 (7)                
   2004    $ 284,375     $ —       $ —              4,500     

Daniel P. Donovan,

President and Chief Operating Officer (13)

   2005    $ 300,000     $ —       $ 21,778 (6)          5,000     
   2004    $ 253,654     $ 85,785     $ 24,614 (6)          10,000     

Richard F. Ambury

Chief Financial Officer (14)

   2005    $ 232,988     $ 100,000     $ 16,629 (6)          9,917     
   2004    $ 222,956     $ —       $ 10,034 (6)          9,917     
   2003    $ 207,941 (4)   $ 162,550 (5)   $ 14,185 (6)          9,917     

 

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(1) The $6.6 million in “Other Annual Compensation” represents the cumulative amount that will be paid to Mr. Sevin over the life of his consulting agreement and retirement package, in connection with his Agreement. On March 7, 2005 (the “Termination Date”), Star Gas LLC and Mr. Irik P. Sevin entered into a letter agreement and general release (the “Agreement”). In accordance with the Agreement, Mr. Sevin confirmed his resignation from employment as the Chief Executive Officer and President of Star Gas LLC (and its subsidiaries) under the employment agreement between Mr. Sevin and Star Gas LLC dated as of September 30, 2001. Pursuant to the Agreement, Mr. Sevin is entitled to an annual consulting fee totaling $395,000 for a period of five years following the Termination Date. In addition, the Agreement provides for Mr. Sevin to receive a retirement benefit equal to $350,000 per year for a 13-year period beginning with the month following the five-year anniversary of the Termination Date. At March 31, 2005, the Partnership recorded a liability for $4.2 million, representing the present value of the cost of the Agreement. This amount also includes $12,768 company paid contributions under Petro’s 401(k) defined contribution retirement plan, $7,610 company paid life insurance premiums, professional fees totaling $5,185 and $9,531 for personal use of company owned vehicles.
(2) Mr. Sevin resigned as the Partnership’s Chairman of the Board, President and Chief Executive Officer, effective as of March 7, 2005.
(3) This amount represents the following: $15,275 company paid contributions under Petro’s 401(k) defined contribution retirement plan and professional fees totaling $41,153 and $9,328 for personal use of company owned vehicles.
(4) Fiscal 2003 salary amounts reflects the reduction in salary that each named executive forfeited to obtain his respective fiscal 2003 grant of restricted unit appreciation rights as follows: Irik P. Sevin - $120,000, Ami Trauber– $72,000 and Richard F. Ambury – $15,375.
(5) Fiscal 2003 bonus amount includes the value as of September 30, 2003 of senior subordinated units vested in fiscal 2003 under the Partnership’s Director and Employee Unit Incentive Plan as follows: Irik P. Sevin–$410,000, Joseph P. Cavanaugh– $123,060 and Richard F. Ambury – $102,550.
(6) These amounts represent company paid contributions under Petro’s 401(k) defined contribution retirement plan.
(7) These amounts represent severance payments in connection with Mr. Trauber’s and Mr. Shinnebarger’s separation agreements of $278,100 and $243,750, respectively. Mr. Trauber and Mr. Shinnebarger also received company paid contributions under Petro’s 401(k) defined contribution retirement plan of $13,901 and $3,250, respectively. In addition, these amounts also include $3,820 and $3,673 for personal use of company owned vehicles for Mr. Trauber and Mr. Shinnebarger, respectively.
(8) Mr. Trauber assumed the position of the Chief Financial Officer effective November 1, 2001 and resigned effective May 6, 2005.
(9) In connection with the sale of the propane segment in December 2004, the Partnership paid the segment’s then Chief Executive Officer, Joseph Cavanaugh, a bonus equal to three times Mr. Cavanaugh’s annual salary and bonus upon the successful completion of the sale.
(10) For fiscal 2002, 2003 and 2004, these amounts represent funds paid in lieu of company paid contributions to the Partnership’s retirement plans. In fiscal 2004, other annual compensation represents a $474,679 distribution from the Partnership’s SERP retirement plan. Mr. Cavanaugh became eligible in fiscal 2004 to receive distributions from the SERP plan.
(11) Mr. Cavanaugh was appointed as the Chief Executive Officer as of March 7, 2005.
(12) Mr. Shinnebarger assumed the position of Executive Vice President effective November 1, 2003 and resigned effective as of May 3, 2005.
(13) Mr. Donovan assumed the position of President of the Heating Oil Segment effective May 1, 2004 and President and Chief Operating Officer of the Partnership effective March 7, 2005.
(14) Mr. Ambury was appointed the Partnership’s Chief Financial Officer, effective as of May 6, 2005.

 

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Aggregated Option/UAR Exercises in Last Fiscal Year

and Fiscal Year End Option/UAR Values

 

Name


   Units Acquired
Exercise of UARs


    Value Realized

   

Number of
Unexercised
UARs at
September 30,

2005
Exercisable(E)/
Unexercisable(U) (1)


   

Value of
In the Money
UARs

at September 30,
2005


Irik P. Sevin

   102,000 (2)   $ 286,963 (3)   436,019 (U)   $ —  

Ami Trauber

   44,749 (2)   $ 172,182 (3)   —       $ —  

Daniel P. Donovan

   —       $ —       5,000 (U)   $ —  

Richard F. Ambury

   —       $ —       6,612     $ 36,762

(1) The UARs listed in the above table represent the right of the grantee to receive payment in cash equal to the excess of the fair market value of a senior subordinated unit on the vesting date for such UARs over the respective exercise prices which range from $7.6259 to $20.90 per unit (subject to deferral).
(2) Represents senior subordinated units issued upon exercise of UARs.
(3) Represents the excess of the fair market value of senior subordinated units, represented by the closing price on the New York Stock Exchange on the vesting date for such UARs over the respective exercise prices.

 

Long-Term Incentive Plans – Awards in Last Fiscal

None

Equity Compensation Plan Information

 

Plan category


  

(a)

Number of
securities to be
issued upon
exercise of
outstanding
options,
warrants and
rights


   (b)
Weighted-
average
exercise
price of
outstanding
options,
warrants
and rights


   (c)
Number of
securities
remaining
available for
future
issuance
under equity
compensation
plans
(excluding
securities
reflected in
column (a))


Equity compensation plans approved by security holders

   —      —      —  

Equity compensation plans not approved by security holders

   —      —      240,000
    
  
  

Total

   —      —      240,000
    
  
  

 

Employment Contracts and Service Agreements

 

Agreement with Daniel P. Donovan

 

The Partnership entered into an employment agreement with Mr. Donovan effective as of May 5, 2004. Mr. Donovan’s employment agreement has a term of three years unless otherwise terminated in accordance with the employment agreement. The employment agreement provides for an annual base salary of $300,000. In addition, Mr. Donovan may earn a bonus of up to 35% of his base salary for services rendered based upon achieving certain performance criteria. Mr. Donovan is also entitled to receive 10,000 common units annually under a long-term incentive plan that is to be developed by the Partnership. The employment agreement provides for one year’s salary as severance if Mr. Donovan’s employment is terminated without cause or by Mr. Donovan for good reason.

 

Agreement with Joseph P. Cavanaugh

 

In connection with the sale of the propane segment in December 2004, the Partnership paid the segment’s then Chief Executive Officer, Joseph Cavanaugh, a bonus of $1,140,894 equal to three times Mr. Cavanaugh’s annual salary and bonus upon the successful completion of the sale. Upon completion of the sale, Mr. Cavanaugh’s position was terminated by the Partnership. Mr. Cavanaugh was subsequently employed by Inergy, the entity that acquired the propane segment, from December 2004 to March 2005 as President, of its Star Gas Division. Mr. Cavanaugh was appointed as the Chief Executive Officer of Star Gas, effective as of March 7, 2005, at an annual salary of $275,000.

 

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Agreement with Richard F. Ambury

 

Effective May 4, 2005, Petro entered into an employment agreement with Richard F. Ambury pursuant to which Mr. Ambury will be employed by Petro for a three-year term ending on May 3, 2008. Mr. Ambury will serve as Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of both Petro and the general partner of the Partnership. The agreement provides for an annual base salary of $236,333 and a performance-based bonus of up to 35% of his base salary or such higher percentage as shall be applicable to Petro’s chief operating officer. In addition to the performance-based bonus, Mr. Ambury will receive a payment of $50,000 on the last day of each 12-month period during the term. If Mr. Ambury’s employment is terminated without cause or Mr. Ambury terminates his employment as a result of a material breach of this agreement by Petro, Mr. Ambury will be entitled to the following severance compensation: $858,999, if the agreement is terminated prior to April 30, 2006; $572,666 if the agreement is terminated after May 1, 2006 and prior to April 30, 2007; and $286,333, if the agreement is terminated after May 1, 2007 and prior to May 3, 2008.

 

Agreement with Irik P. Sevin

 

On March 7, 2005, the General Partner and Mr. Irik P. Sevin entered into a letter agreement and general release (the “Agreement”). In accordance with the Agreement, Mr. Sevin confirmed his resignation as Chairman of the Board of the General Partner and his resignation from employment as the Chief Executive Officer and President of the General Partner (and its subsidiaries) under the employment agreement between Mr. Sevin and the General Partner dated as of September 30, 2001, in each case effective immediately. Pursuant to the Agreement, Mr. Sevin will not be eligible for any benefits or compensation, other than as specifically provided in the Agreement. Pursuant to the Agreement, for the 13-year period beginning with the month following the five-year anniversary of the termination date, the General Partner will provide Mr. Sevin with a retirement benefit equal to $350,000 per year.

 

Mr. Sevin continues to be a director of the General Partner and will provide consulting services to the Partnership for a period of five years following the termination date. Mr. Sevin will be entitled to annual consulting fees of $395,000, payable in equal monthly installments. For a period of two years following the termination date, the General Partner will reimburse Mr. Sevin for all reasonable expenses incurred in maintaining an office to provide the consulting services provided that such expenses shall in no event exceed $50,000 per year. The General Partner will also provide Mr. Sevin with one administrative assistant at the same level as his current assistant during this two-year period. Mr. Sevin executed a general release in favor of the Partnership, containing certain exceptions.

 

Agreement with Ami Trauber

 

On July 27, 2005, Star Gas LLC and Mr. Ami Trauber entered into an agreement, effective as July 15, 2005, in connection with the termination of his employment agreement dated as of October 15, 2001. Mr. Trauber received a payment of $92,700 representing salary in lieu of the 90 days’ notice plus six months of severance compensation equal to $185,400. In addition, the Partnership will pay the premium for Mr. Trauber’s healthcare coverage for nine months. Mr. Trauber received all amounts due and payable to him in accordance with the terms of the unit appreciation rights that were previously granted to him in 2001 and 2002.

 

Agreement with David Shinnebarger

 

Effective as of May 3, 2005, the employment of Mr. David Shinnebarger, as Chief Marketing Officer of the Partnership, was terminated. Mr. Shinnebarger was employed pursuant to an employment agreement dated as of October 17, 2003, by and between, the Partnership and Mr. Shinnebarger. In connection with the termination of this agreement, Mr. Shinnebarger received a payment of $243,750, representing salary in lieu of the 90 days’ notice plus the six months severance. In addition, the Partnership will pay the premium for Mr. Shinnebarger’s healthcare coverage for nine months.

 

401(k) Plan

 

Mr. Cavanaugh, Mr. Donovan and Mr. Ambury are covered under a 401(k) defined contribution plan maintained by Petro. Participants in the plan may elect to contribute a sum not to exceed the lesser of 17% of a participant’s compensation or the maximum limit under the Internal Revenue Code of 1975, as amended. Under this plan, Petro makes a core contribution from 4% up to a maximum 5.5% of a participant’s compensation up to $205,000 and matches 2/3 of each amount that a participant contributes with a maximum employer match of 2%.

 

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ITEM 12. SECURITY OWNERSHIP OF CERTAIN BENEFICIAL OWNERS AND MANAGEMENT

 

The following table shows the beneficial ownership as of November 20, 2005 of common units, senior subordinated units, junior subordinated units and general partner units by:

 

(1) Star Gas LLC and certain beneficial owners;

 

(2) each of the named executive officers and directors of Star Gas LLC;

 

(3) all directors and executive officers of Star Gas LLC as a group; and

 

(4) each person the Partnership knows to hold 5% or more of Star Gas Partners’ units.

 

Except as indicated, the address of each person is c/o Star Gas Partners, L.P. at 2187 Atlantic Street, Stamford, Connecticut 06902-0011.

 

     Common Units

   

Senior

Subordinated Units


   

Junior

Subordinated Units


    General Partner Units(a)

 

Name


   Number

   Percentage

    Number

    Percentage

    Number

   Percentage

    Number

    Percentage

 

Star Gas LLC

   —      —   %   29,133     * %   —      —   %   325,729     100 %

Irik P. Sevin

   33,000    *     300,609 (b)   8.8     53,426    15.5     325,729 (b)   100  

Audrey L. Sevin

   6,000    *     42,829 (b)   1.3     153,131    44.3     325,729 (b)   100  

Hanseatic Americas, Inc.

   —      —       29,133 (b)   *     138,807    40.2     325,729 (b)   100  

Paul Biddelman

   —      —       8,057     *     —      —       —       —    

William P. Nicoletti

   —      —       5,252     *     —      —       —       —    

Stephen Russell

   —      —       5,252     *     —      —       —       —    

Richard F. Ambury

   2,125    *     —       —       —      —       —       —    

Joseph P. Cavanaugh

   —      —       —       —       —      —       —       —    

Daniel P. Donovan

   —      —       —       —       —      —       —       —    

Ami Trauber

   —      —       44,749     —       —      —       —       —    
    
  

 

 

 
  

 

 

All officers and directors and Star Gas LLC as a group (9 persons)

   41,125    *     377,615     9.8 %   206,557    59.8 %   325,729     100 %

Third Point Management Company, LLC(c)

   2,000,000    6.2 %                                   

Dalal Street, Inc. (d)

   1,802,926    5.4 %                                   

Lime Capital Management LLC (e)

   1,690,100    5.3 %                                   

Atticus Capital LLC (f)

   1,749,000    5.4 %                                   

(a) For purpose of this table, the number of General Partner Units is deemed to include the 0.01% equity interest in Star/Petro, Inc.
(b) Assumes each of Star Gas LLC’s owners may be deemed to beneficially own all of Star Gas LLC’s general partner units and senior subordinated units; however, they disclaim beneficial ownership of these units, except to the extent of their proportionate interest therein. The membership interests in Star Gas LLC are owned by its members in the following proportions: Audrey Sevin -44.2580%; Irik Sevin-15.6363%; and Hanseatic Americas, Inc.-40.1057%. See Item 10 “Directors and Executive Officers of the Registrant” – Partnership Management
(c) According to a Schedule 13G filed with the SEC on October 26, 2004, Third Point Management Company LLC (“Third Point”) is a Delaware limited liability, which serves as investment manager or adviser to a variety of hedge funds and managed accounts with respect to Common Units directly owned by the funds and accounts. Mr. Daniel S. Loeb is the managing director of Third Point and controls its business activities with respect to the Common Units. Third Point’s address is 360 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10017.
(d) According to a Schedule 13G filed with the SEC on January 10, 2005, Dalal Street, Inc. and Mr. Mohnish Prabai in his capacity as chief executive officer of Dalal Street, Inc., have shared the power to vote or to direct the vote and the shared power to dispose or direct the disposition of the Common Units owned by the Pabrai Investment Fund II, L.P.; Pabrai Investment Fund 3, Ltd.; Pabrai Investment Fund IV, L.P.; Dalal Street, Inc.; an Mohnish Prabai. Their address is 17 Spectrum Point Drive, Suite 503, Lake Forest, CA 92630.
(e)

According to a Schedule 13G filed with the SEC on April 21, 2005, includes 1,156,050 Common Units beneficially owned by Lime Capital Management LLC and 534,050 Common Units beneficially owned by Lime Capital Management Administrators LLC, an affiliate of Lime Capital Management LLC, for which Lime Capital Management LLC disclaims beneficial ownership. Lime Capital Management LLC is the investment manager and a managing member of Lime Fund LLC. Lime Capital

 

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Management Administrators LLC is the investment manager of Lime Overseas Fund Ltd. and a managing member of Lime Fund LLC. Gregory E. Bylinsky and Mark Gorton are the managing members of Lime Capital Management LLC and Lime Capital Management Administrators LLC. The principal business office address of each of Lime Capital Management LLC, Lime Capital Management Administrators LLC, Lime Fund LLC, Gregory E. Bylinsky and Mark Gorton is 377 Broadway, 11th Floor, New York, New York 10013. The principal business office address of Lime Overseas Fund is c/o Meridian Corporate Services Limited, P.O. Box HM 528, 73 Front Street, Hamilton, HM CX, Bermuda.

(f) According to a Schedule 13G filed with the SEC on April 28, 2005, Atticus Capital LLC and Timothy R. Barakett share voting and disposition power with respect to the common units listed above. Their address is 152 West 57th Street, 45th Floor, New York, NY 10019.
* Amount represents less than 1%.

 

Section 16(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 requires the General Partner’s officers and directors, and persons who own more than 10% of a registered class of the Partnership’s equity securities, to file reports of beneficial ownership and changes in beneficial ownership with the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”). Officers, directors and greater than 10 percent unitholders are required by SEC regulation to furnish the General Partner with copies of all Section 16(a) forms.

 

Based solely on its review of the copies of such forms received by the General Partner, or written representations from certain reporting persons that no Forms 5 were required for those persons, the General Partner believes that during fiscal 2005 all filing requirements applicable to its officers, directors, and greater than 10 percent beneficial owners were met in a timely manner, except that Mr. Sevin filed two Form 5’s relating to gifts of 4,067 senior subordinated units in the aggregate, subsequent to the required filing dates.

 

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ITEM 13. CERTAIN RELATIONSHIPS AND RELATED TRANSACTIONS

 

The Partnership and the General Partner have certain ongoing relationships with Petro and its affiliates. Affiliates of the General Partner, including Petro, perform certain administrative services for the General Partner on behalf of the Partnership. Such affiliates do not receive a fee for such services, but are reimbursed for all direct and indirect expenses incurred in connection therewith.

 

On March 7, 2005, the General Partner and Audrey L. Sevin, a director and the Secretary of Star Gas, LLC, entered into a letter agreement and general release (the “Letter Agreement”). In accordance with the Letter Agreement, Ms. Sevin confirmed her resignation from employment as the Secretary of the General Partner (and its subsidiaries), effective immediately. Pursuant to a separate letter from Ms. Sevin to the Partnership, Ms. Sevin also agreed to resign as a member of the Board of Directors of the General Partner, effective immediately. Pursuant to the Letter Agreement, Ms. Sevin will not be eligible for any benefits or compensation, other than as specifically provided in the Letter Agreement. The Partnership agreed to pay Ms. Sevin, as severance, 26 weeks of her base salary, payable in intervals in accordance with the Partnership’s customary payroll practices. Ms. Sevin executed a general release in favor of the Partnership, containing certain exceptions.

 

ITEM 14. PRINCIPAL ACCOUNTANT FEES AND SERVICES

 

The following table represents the aggregate fees for professional audit services rendered by KPMG LLP including fees for the audit of the Partnership’s annual financial statements for the fiscal years 2004 and 2005, and for fees billed for other services rendered by KPMG LLP (in thousands).

 

     2004

   2005

Audit Fees (1)

   $ 900    $ 1,716

Audit-Related Fees (2)

     298      139
    

  

Audit and Audit-Related Fees

     1,198      1,855

Tax Fees (3)

     261      390
    

  

Total Fees

   $ 1,459    $ 2,245
    

  


(1) Audit fees were for professional services rendered in connection with audits and quarterly reviews of the consolidated financial statements of the Partnership, review of and preparation of consents for registration statements filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, for review of the Partnership’s tax provision and for subsidiary statutory audits. The increase in 2005 fees was primarily related to services in connection with Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002. Audit fees incurred in connection with registration statements were $236,000 and $95,000 for fiscal years 2004 and 2005, respectively.
(2) Audit-related fees were principally for audits of financial statements of certain employee benefit plans, internal controls reviews, other services related to financial accounting and reporting standards and preparation for the Partnership’s compliance with Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002.
(3) Tax fees related to services for tax consultation and tax compliance.

 

Audit Committee: Pre-Approval Policies and Procedures. At its regularly scheduled and special meetings, the Audit Committee of the Board of Directors considers and pre-approves any audit and non-audit services to be performed by the Partnership’s independent accountants. The Audit Committee has delegated to its chairman, an independent member of the Partnership’s Board of Directors, the authority to grant pre-approvals of non-audit services provided that the service(s) shall be reported to the Audit Committee at its next regularly scheduled meeting.

 

Promptly after the effective date of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, the Audit Committee approved all non-audit services being performed at that time by the Partnership’s principal accountant. On June 18, 2003, the Audit Committee adopted its pre-approval policies and procedures. Since that date, there have been no non-audit services rendered by the Partnership’s principal accountants that were not pre-approved.

 

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PART IV

 

ITEM 15. EXHIBITS AND FINANCIAL STATEMENT SCHEDULES

 

1. Financial Statements

 

See “Index to Consolidated Financial Statements and Financial Statement Schedule” set forth on page F-1.

 

2. Financial Statement Schedule.

 

See “Index to Consolidated Financial Statements and Financial Statement Schedule” set forth on page F-1.

 

3. Exhibits.

 

See “Index to Exhibits” set forth on page 61

 

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INDEX TO EXHIBITS

 

Exhibit
Number


 

Description


  4.2

  Amended and Restated Agreement of Limited Partnership of Star Gas Partners, L.P.(2)

  4.3

  Amended and Restated Agreement of Limited Partnership of Star Gas Propane, L.P.(2)

  4.4

  Amendment No. 1 dated as of April 17, 2001 to Amended and Restated Agreement of Limited Partnership of Star Gas Partners, L.P.(11)

  4.5

  Unit Purchase Rights Agreement dated April 17, 2001(12)

  4.6

  First Amendment to Unit Purchase Rights Agreement dated December 2, 2005 (12)

  4.7

  Amendment No. 2 to Amended and Restated Agreement of Limited Partnership of Star Gas Partners, L.P.(17)

  4.8

  Amendment No. 3 to Amended and Restated Agreement of Limited Partnership of Star Gas Partners.(20)

  4.9

  Amendment No. 1 to Amended and Restated Agreement of Limited Partnership of Star Gas Propane.(20)

  4.10

  Form of Second Amended and Restated Agreement of Limited Partnership (27)

10.2

  Form of Conveyance and Contribution Agreement among Star Gas Corporation, the Partnership and the Operating Partnership.(3)

10.3

  Form of First Mortgage Note Agreement among certain insurance companies, Star Gas Corporation and Star Gas Propane L.P.(3)

10.4

  Intercompany Debt(3)

10.5

  Form of Non-competition Agreement between Petro and the Partnership(3)

10.6

  Form of Star Gas Corporation 1995 Unit Option Plan(3)(10)

10.7

  Amoco Supply Contract(3)

10.11

  Note Agreement, dated as of January 22, 1998, by and between Star Gas and The Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company(6)

10.14

  Agreement and Plan of Merger by and among Petroleum Heat and Power Co., Inc., Star Gas Partners, L.P., Petro/Mergeco, Inc., and Star Gas Propane, L.P.(2)

10.15

  Exchange Agreement(2)

10.16

  Amendment to the Exchange Agreement dated as of February 10, 1999(2).

10.19

  $12,500,000 8.67% First Mortgage Notes, Series A, due March 30, 2012.
    $15,000,000 8.72% First Mortgage Notes, Series B, due March 30, 2015 dated as of March 30, 2000(5)

10.21

  June 2000 Star Gas Employee Unit Incentive Plan(6)(10)

10.22

  $40,000,000 Senior Secured Note Agreement(7)

10.23

  Note Purchase Agreement for $7,500,000 – 7.62% First Mortgage Notes, Series A, due April 1, 2008 and $22,000,000 – 7.95% First Mortgage Notes, Series B, due April 1, 2011(8)

10.26

  Note Agreement dated as of July 30, 2001 for $103,000,000 by Star Gas Partners, L.P., Petro Holdings, Inc., Petroleum Heat and Power Co., Inc., and the agents Bank of America, N.A. and First Union Securities, Inc.(14)

10.27

  Employment agreement dated as of September 30, 2001 between Star Gas LLC, and Irik P. Sevin.(10)(14)

10.28

  Meenan Equity Purchase Agreement dated July 31, 2001(13)

10.32

  Amended and restated credit agreement dated September 23, 2003, between Star Gas Propane, LP and the agents, JPMorgan Chase Bank and Wachovia Bank, N.A.(16)

10.33

  Parity debt agreement, dated September 30, 2003, between Star Gas Propane, LP, and the agents, Fleet National Bank, Wachovia Bank, N.A. and JPMorgan Chase Bank(16)

10.34

  Employment Agreement between Petro Holdings, Inc. and Angelo J. Catania(10)(16)

10.35

  Credit Agreement dated December 22, 2003, between Petroleum Heat and Power Co., Inc. and the agents, Fleet National Bank, JPMorgan Chase Bank and LaSalle Bank National Association.(18)

10.36

  First supplemental indenture dated January 22, 2004 to the indenture dated February 6, 2003 for the Partnership’s
10- 1/4% Senior Notes due 2013.(18)

10.37

  Agreement to sell the stock and business of Total Gas & Electric.(19)

10.38

  Indenture for the 10-1/4% senior notes due February 2013.(2)

10.39

  Letter Amendment and Waiver No. 2 to Petro Credit Agreement.(21)

10.40

  Employment Agreement between the Registrant and David Shinnebarger.(21)(10)

10.41

  Employment Agreement between Petro Holdings, Inc. and Daniel P. Donovan.(21)(10)

10.42

  Interest Purchase Agreement for the sale of the propane operations(20)

10.43

  Non-Competition Agreement(20)

10.44

  Credit Agreement dated December 17, 2004, between Petroleum Heat and Power Co., Inc. and JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A., Bank of America, N.A., Wachovia Bank, National Association, General Electric Capital Corporation, Citizens Bank of Massachusetts and J. P. MorganSecurities, Inc.(23)

10.45

  Amendment, dated as of November 2, 2005, to the Credit Agreement, dated as of December 17, 2004 among Petroleum Heat and Power Co., Inc. and JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A., Bank of America, N.A., Wachovia Bank, National Association, General Electric Capital Corporation, and Citizens Bank of Massachusetts (28)

10.46

  Letter Agreement and general release dated March 7, 2005 between Star Gas Partners L.P. and Irik P. Sevin (23)

10.47

  Agreement between the Registrant and Audrey Sevin dated March 7, 2005 (23)

10.48

  Voting Trust Agreement dated March 7, 2005 between Star Gas LLC, Irik Sevin, Stephen Russell and Joseph Cavanaugh (23)

10.49

  Employment Agreement dated May 4, 2005 between the Registrant and Richard F. Ambury(24) (10)

10.50

  Agreement dated July 15, 2005 between the Registrant and Ami Trauber (26)

10.51

  Agreement dated May 6, 2005 between the Registrant and David Shinnebarger (1)

10.52

  Unit Purchase Agreement dated as of December [5], 2005 among Star Gas Partners, L.P., Star Gas LLC, Kestrel Energy Partners, LLC, Kestrel Heat, LLC and KM2, LLC (29)

10.53

  Form of Noteholder Lock-Up Agreement with MacKay Shields LLC and Lehman Brothers Inc. (29)

10.54

  Form of Noteholder Lock-Up Agreement with Morgan Asset Management, Inc. and Third Point LLC (29)

10.55

  Form of Noteholder Lock-Up Agreement with Trilogy Capital, LLC (29)

10.56

  Form of Noteholder Lock-Up Agreement with Merrill Lynch Investment Managers and certain related entities (29)

10.57

  Form of Backstop Agreement with MacKay Shields LLC and Lehman Brothers Inc. (29)

10.58

  Form of new Indenture for the new senior notes (29)

10.59

  Form of Amended and Restated Indenture for the existing senior notes (29)

14

  Code of Ethics(19)

21

  Subsidiaries of the Registrant(1)

23.1

  Consent of KPMG LLP(1)

31.1

  Certification of Chief Executive Officer pursuant to Rule 13a-14(a)/15d-14(a).(1)

31.2

  Certification of Chief Financial Officer pursuant to Rule 13a-14(a)/15d-14(a).(1)

32.1

  Certification of Chief Executive Officer pursuant to 18 U.S.C. Section 1350, as adopted pursuant to Section 906 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002(1)

32.2

  Certification of Chief Financial Officer pursuant to 18 U.S.C. Section 1350, as adopted pursuant to Section 906 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002(1)

 

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INDEX TO EXHIBITS (continued)

 

(1 )   Filed herewith.
(2 )   Incorporated by reference to an Exhibit to the Registrant’s Registration Statement on Form S-4, File No. 333-103873, filed with the Commission March 17, 2003.
(3 )   Incorporated by reference to the same Exhibit to Registrant’s Registration Statement on Form S-1, File No. 33-98490, filed with the Commission on December 13, 1995.
(4 )   Incorporated by reference to the same Exhibit to Registrant’s Registration Statement on Form S-3, File No. 333-47295, filed with the Commission on March 4, 1998.
(5 )   Incorporated by reference to the same Exhibit to Registrant’s Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q filed with the Commission on April 26, 2000.
(6 )   Incorporated by reference to the same Exhibit to Registrant’s Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q filed with the Commission on August 10, 2000.
(7 )   In Accordance with Item 601(B)(4)(iii) of Regulation S-K, the Partnership will provide a copy of this document to the SEC upon request.
(8 )   Incorporated by reference to the same Exhibit to Registrant’s Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q filed with the Commission on May 10, 2001.
(9 )   Incorporated by reference to the same Exhibit to Registrant’s Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q filed with the Commission on August 13, 2001.
(10 )   Management compensation agreement.
(11 )   Incorporated by reference to Exhibit 3.1 to the Registrant’s Current Report on Form 8-K dated April 16, 2001.
(12 )   Incorporated by reference to Exhibit 4.1 to the Registrant’s Registration Statement on Form 8-A filed with the Commission on April 18, 2001, as amended by Exhibit 4.2 to Form 8-A/A filed with the Commission on December 5, 2005.
(13 )   Incorporated by reference to Exhibit 10.1 to the Registrant’s Current Report on Form 8-K dated July 31, 2001.
(14 )   Incorporated by reference to the same Exhibit to Registrant’s Annual Report on Form 10-K filed with the Commission on December 20, 2001.
(15 )   Incorporated by reference to the same Exhibit to Registrant’s Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q filed with the Commission on April 30, 2002.
(17 )   Incorporated by reference to the same Exhibit to Registrant’s Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q filed with the Commission on August 6, 2003.
(18 )   Incorporated by reference to the same Exhibit to Registrant’s Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q filed with the Commission on January 29, 2004.
(19 )   Incorporated by reference to the same Exhibit to Registrant’s Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q filed with the Commission on April 29, 2004.
(16 )   Incorporated by reference to the same Exhibit to Registrant’s Annual Report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2003, filed with the Commission on December 22, 2003.
(20 )   Incorporated by reference to the Registrant’s Current Report on Form 8-K dated November 18, 2004.
(21 )   Incorporated by reference to the Registrant’s Annual Report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2004, filed with the Commission on December 14, 2004.
(22 )   Incorporated by reference to the same Exhibit to Registrant’s Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q filed with the Commission on February 9, 2005.
(23 )   Incorporated by reference to the Registrant’s Current Report on Form 8-K filed with the Commission on March 8, 2005.
(24 )   Incorporated by reference to the an Exhibit to Registrant’s Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q filed with the Commission on May 6, 2005.
(25 )   Incorporated by reference to an Exhibit to the Registrant’s Registration Statement on Form S-4, File No. 333-103873, filed with the Commission June 30, 2005.
(26 )   Incorporated by reference to the Registrant’s Current Report on Form 8-K dated August 1, 2005.
(27 )   Incorporated by reference to the same Exhibit to Registrant’s Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q filed with the Commission on August 9, 2005.
(28 )   Incorporated by reference to the Registrant’s Current Report on Form 8-K dated November 4, 2005.
(29 )   Incorporated by reference to the Registrant’s Current Report on Form 8-K dated December 5, 2005.

 

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SIGNATURE

 

Pursuant to the requirements of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, the General Partner has duly caused this report to be signed on its behalf by the undersigned thereunto duly authorized:

 

    Star Gas Partners, L.P.
By:   Star Gas LLC (General Partner)
By:  

/s/ Joseph P. Cavanaugh


    Joseph P. Cavanaugh
    Chief Executive Officer

 

Pursuant to the requirements of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, this report has been signed by the following persons in the capacities and on the date indicated:

 

Signature


 

Title


 

Date


/s/ Joseph P. Cavanaugh


 

Chief Executive Officer and Director

Star Gas LLC

 

December 12, 2005

Joseph P. Cavanaugh

     

/s/ Richard F. Ambury


 

Chief Financial Officer

(Principal Financial and Accounting Officer)

Star Gas LLC

 

December 12, 2005

Richard F. Ambury

     

/s/ William P. Nicoletti


 

Non-Executive Chairman of the Board and Director

Star Gas LLC

 

December 12, 2005

William P. Nicoletti

     

/s/ Paul Biddelman


 

Director

Star Gas LLC

 

December 12, 2005

Paul Biddelman

     

/s/ Stephen Russell


 

Director

Star Gas LLC

 

December 12, 2005

Stephen Russell

     

/s/ Irik. P. Sevin


 

Director

Star Gas LLC

 

December 12, 2005

Irik P. Sevin

     

 

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SIGNATURE

 

Pursuant to the requirements of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, the Registrant has duly caused this report to be signed on its behalf by the undersigned thereunto duly authorized:

 

    Star Gas Finance Company
By:   (Registrant)
By:  

/s/ Joseph P. Cavanaugh


    Joseph P. Cavanaugh
    Chief Executive Officer

 

Pursuant to the requirements of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, this report has been signed by the following persons in the capacities and on the date indicated:

 

Signature


 

Title


 

Date


/s/ Joseph P. Cavanaugh


 

Chief Executive Officer and Director

(Principle Executive Officer)

Star Gas Finance Company

 

December 12, 2005

Joseph P. Cavanaugh

     

/s/ Richard F. Ambury


 

Chief Financial Officer

(Principal Financial and Accounting Officer)

Star Gas Finance Company

 

December 12, 2005

Richard F. Ambury

     

 

64


Table of Contents

STAR GAS PARTNERS, L.P. AND SUBSIDIARIES

INDEX TO CONSOLIDATED FINANCIAL STATEMENTS

AND FINANCIAL STATEMENT SCHEDULE

 

         Page

Part II   Financial Information:     
   

Item 8 - Financial Statements

    
   

Reports of Independent Registered Public Accounting Firm

   F-2
   

Consolidated Balance Sheets as of September 30, 2004 and 2005

   F-4
   

Consolidated Statements of Operations for the years ended September 30, 2003, 2004 and 2005

   F-5
   

Consolidated Statements of Comprehensive Income (Loss) for the years ended September 30, 2003, 2004 and 2005

  

F-6

   

Consolidated Statements of Partners’ Capital for the years ended September 30, 2003, 2004 and 2005

   F-7
   

Consolidated Statements of Cash Flows for the years ended September 30, 2003, 2004 and 2005

   F-8
   

Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements

   F-9 - F-33
   

Schedule for the years ended September 30, 2003, 2004 and 2005

    
   

II. Valuation and Qualifying Accounts

   F-34
   

All other schedules are omitted because they are not applicable or the required information is shown in the consolidated financial statements or the notes therein.

    

 

F-1


Table of Contents

STAR GAS PARTNERS, L.P. AND SUBSIDIARIES

REPORT OF INDEPENDENT REGISTERED PUBLIC ACCOUNTING FIRM

 

The Partners of Star Gas Partners, L.P.:

 

We have audited the consolidated financial statements of Star Gas Partners, L.P. and Subsidiaries (the “Partnership”) as listed in the accompanying index. In connection with our audits of the consolidated financial statements, we have also audited the financial statement schedule as listed in the accompanying index. These consolidated financial statements and financial statement schedule are the responsibility of the Partnership’s management. Our responsibility is to express an opinion on these consolidated financial statements and financial statement schedule based on our audits.

 

We conducted our audits in accordance with the standards of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (United States). Those standards require that we plan and perform the audit to obtain reasonable assurance about whether the financial statements are free of material misstatement. An audit includes examining, on a test basis, evidence supporting the amounts and disclosures in the financial statements. An audit also includes assessing the accounting principles used and significant estimates made by management, as well as evaluating the overall financial statement presentation. We believe that our audits provide a reasonable basis for our opinion.

 

In our opinion, the consolidated financial statements referred to above present fairly, in all material respects, the financial position of Star Gas Partners, L.P. and Subsidiaries as of September 30, 2004 and 2005 and the results of their operations and their cash flows for each of the years in the three-year period ended September 30, 2005, in conformity with U.S. generally accepted accounting principles. Also in our opinion, the related financial statement schedule, when considered in relation to the basic consolidated financial statements taken as a whole, presents fairly, in all material respects, the information set forth therein.

 

We have also audited, in accordance with the standards of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (United States), the effectiveness of the Partnership’s internal control over financial reporting as of September 30, 2005, based on criteria established in Internal Control – Integrated Framework issued by the Committee of Sponsoring Organizations of the Treadway Commission (COSO), and our report dated December 12, 2005 expressed an unqualified opinion on management’s assessment of, and the effective operation of, internal control over financial reporting.

 

The accompanying financial statements have been prepared assuming that the Partnership will continue as a going concern. As discussed in Note 2 to the consolidated financial statements, the Partnership must utilize all or a portion of the excess proceeds (as defined) from the sale of its propane segment to fund its working capital requirements over the next twelve months. Under the terms of the Indenture for the Partnership’s Senior Notes, such excess proceeds (as defined) are required to be offered to the holders of the Senior Notes by December 12, 2005. It is possible that the holders of the Senior Notes will not permit the use of such excess proceeds (as defined) by the Partnership to fund its working capital requirements. This factor raises substantial doubt about the Partnership’s ability to continue as a going concern. Management’s plans in regard to these matters are described in Note 21. The consolidated financial statements do not include any adjustments that might result from the outcome of this uncertainty.

 

As discussed in Notes 3 and 9 to the consolidated financial statements, the Partnership adopted the provisions of Statement of Financial Accounting Standards No. 142, “Goodwill and Other Intangible Assets,” as of October 1, 2002.

 

KPMG, LLP

Stamford, Connecticut

December 12, 2005

 

F-2


Table of Contents

STAR GAS PARTNERS, L.P. AND SUBSIDIARIES

 

REPORT OF INDEPENDENT REGISTERED PUBLIC ACCOUNTING FIRM

 

The Partners of Star Gas Partners, L.P.:

 

We have audited management’s assessment, included in the accompanying Management’s Report on Internal Control over Financial Reporting appearing under Item 9A(b) , that Star Gas Partners, L.P. maintained effective internal control over financial reporting as of September 30, 2005, based on criteria established in Internal Control—Integrated Framework issued by the Committee of Sponsoring Organizations of the Treadway Commission (COSO). Management of Star Gas Partners, L.P. is responsible for maintaining effective internal control over financial reporting and for its assessment of the effectiveness of internal control over financial reporting. Our responsibility is to express an opinion on management’s assessment and an opinion on the effectiveness of the Partnership’s internal control over financial reporting based on our audit.

 

We conducted our audit in accordance with the standards of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (United States). Those standards require that we plan and perform the audit to obtain reasonable assurance about whether effective internal control over financial reporting was maintained in all material respects. Our audit included obtaining an understanding of internal control over financial reporting, evaluating management’s assessment, testing and evaluating the design and operating effectiveness of internal control, and performing such other procedures as we considered necessary in the circumstances. We believe that our audit provides a reasonable basis for our opinion.

 

A company’s internal control over financial reporting is a process designed to provide reasonable assurance regarding the reliability of financial reporting and the preparation of financial statements for external purposes in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles. A company’s internal control over financial reporting includes those policies and procedures that (1) pertain to the maintenance of records that, in reasonable detail, accurately and fairly reflect the transactions and dispositions of the assets of the company; (2) provide reasonable assurance that transactions are recorded as necessary to permit preparation of financial statements in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles, and that receipts and expenditures of the company are being made only in accordance with authorizations of management and directors of the company; and (3) provide reasonable assurance regarding prevention or timely detection of unauthorized acquisition, use, or disposition of the company’s assets that could have a material effect on the financial statements.

 

Because of its inherent limitations, internal control over financial reporting may not prevent or detect misstatements. Also, projections of any evaluation of effectiveness to future periods are subject to the risk that controls may become inadequate because of changes in conditions, or that the degree of compliance with the policies or procedures may deteriorate.

 

In our opinion, management’s assessment that Star Gas Partners, L.P. maintained effective internal control over financial reporting as of September 30, 2005, is fairly stated, in all material respects, based on criteria established in Internal Control—Integrated Framework issued by the Committee of Sponsoring Organizations of the Treadway Commission (COSO). Also, in our opinion, Star Gas Partners, L.P. maintained, in all material respects, effective internal control over financial reporting as of September 30, 2005, based on criteria established in Internal Control—Integrated Framework issued by the Committee of Sponsoring Organizations of the Treadway Commission (COSO).

 

We also have audited, in accordance with the standards of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (United States), the consolidated balance sheets of Star Gas Partners, L.P. and Subsidiaries as of September 30, 2004 and 2005, and the related consolidated statements of operations, comprehensive income (loss), partners’ capital, and cash flows for each of the years in the three-year period ended September 30, 2005, and our report dated December 12, 2005 expressed an unqualified opinion on those consolidated financial statements. Our report contains an explanatory paragraph that the Partnership may not be able to fund its working capital requirements, which raises substantial doubt about the Partnership’s ability to continue as a going concern. The consolidated financial statements do not include any adjustments that might result from the outcome of this uncertainty.

 

KPMG LLP

Stamford, Connecticut

December 12, 2005

 

F-3


Table of Contents

STAR GAS PARTNERS, L.P. AND SUBSIDIARIES

CONSOLIDATED BALANCE SHEETS

 

     Years Ended September 30,

 

(in thousands)

 

   2004

    2005

 

ASSETS

                

Current assets

                

Cash and cash equivalents

   $ 4,692     $ 99,148  

Receivables, net of allowance of $5,622 and $8,433, respectively

     84,005       89,703  

Inventories

     34,213       52,461  

Prepaid expenses and other current assets

     60,973       70,120  

Current assets of discontinued operations

     50,288       —    
    


 


Total current assets

     234,171       311,432  
    


 


Property and equipment, net

     63,701       50,022  

Long-term portion of accounts receivables

     5,458       3,788  

Goodwill

     233,522       166,522  

Intangibles, net

     103,925       82,345  

Deferred charges and other assets, net

     13,885       15,152  

Long-term assets of discontinued operations

     306,314       —    
    


 


Total assets

   $ 960,976     $ 629,261  
    


 


LIABILITIES AND PARTNERS’ CAPITAL

                

Current liabilities

                

Accounts payable

   $ 25,010     $ 19,780  

Working capital facility borrowings

     8,000       6,562  

Current maturities of long-term debt

     24,418       796  

Accrued expenses

     65,491       56,580  

Unearned service contract revenue

     35,361       36,602  

Customer credit balances

     53,927       65,287  

Current liabilities of discontinued operations

     50,676       —    
    


 


Total current liabilities

     262,883       185,607  
    


 


Long-term debt

     503,668       267,417  

Other long-term liabilities

     24,654       31,129  

Partners’ capital (deficit)

                

Common unitholders

     167,367       144,312  

Subordinated unitholders

     (6,768 )     (8,930 )

General partner

     (3,702 )     (3,936 )

Accumulated other comprehensive income

     12,874       13,662  
    


 


Total partners’ capital

     169,771       145,108  
    


 


Total liabilities and partners’ capital

   $ 960,976     $ 629,261  
    


 


 

See accompanying notes to consolidated financial statements.

 

F-4


Table of Contents

STAR GAS PARTNERS, L.P. AND SUBSIDIARIES

CONSOLIDATED STATEMENTS OF OPERATIONS

 

     Years Ended September 30,

 

(in thousands, except per unit data)

 

   2003

    2004

    2005

 

Sales:

                        

Product

   $ 934,967     $ 921,443     $ 1,071,270  

Installations and service

     168,001       183,648       188,208  
    


 


 


Total sales

     1,102,968       1,105,091       1,259,478  

Cost and expenses:

                        

Cost of product

     598,397       594,153       786,349  

Cost of installations and service

     195,146       204,902       197,430  

Delivery and branch expenses

     217,244       232,985       231,581  

Depreciation and amortization expenses

     35,535       37,313       35,480  

General and administrative expenses

     39,763       19,937       43,418  

Goodwill impairment charge

     —         —         67,000  
    


 


 


Operating income (loss)

     16,883       15,801       (101,780 )

Interest expense

     (33,306 )     (40,072 )     (36,152 )

Interest income

     3,776       3,390       4,314  

Amortization of debt issuance costs

     (2,038 )     (3,480 )     (2,540 )

Gain (loss) on redemption of debt

     212       —         (42,082 )
    


 


 


Loss from continuing operations before income taxes

     (14,473 )     (24,361 )     (178,240 )

Income tax expense

     1,200       1,240       696  
    


 


 


Loss from continuing operations

     (15,673 )     (25,601 )     (178,936 )

Income (loss) from discontinued operations, net of income taxes

     19,786       20,276       (4,552 )

Gain (loss) on sales of discontinued operations, net of income taxes

     —         (538 )     157,560  

Cumulative effect of changes in accounting principles for discontinued operations - Adoption of SFAS No. 142

     (3,901 )     —         —    
    


 


 


Net income (loss)

   $ 212     $ (5,863 )   $ (25,928 )
    


 


 


General Partner’s interest in net income (loss)

   $ 2     $ (57 )   $ (234 )
    


 


 


Limited Partners’ interest in net income (loss)

   $ 210     $ (5,806 )   $ (25,694 )
    


 


 


Basic and diluted income (loss) per Limited Partner Unit:

                        

Continuing operations

   $ (0.48 )   $ (0.72 )   $ (4.95 )
    


 


 


Net income (loss)

   $ 0.01     $ (0.16 )   $ (0.72 )
    


 


 


Weighted average number of Limited Partner units outstanding:

                        

Basic

     32,659       35,205       35,821  
    


 


 


Diluted

     32,767       35,205       35,821  
    


 


 


 

See accompanying notes to consolidated financial statements.

 

F-5


Table of Contents

STAR GAS PARTNERS, L.P. AND SUBSIDIARIES

CONSOLIDATED STATEMENTS OF COMPREHENSIVE INCOME (LOSS)

 

     Years Ended September 30,

 

(in thousands)

 

   2003

    2004

    2005

 

Net income (loss)

   $ 212     $ (5,863 )   $ (25,928 )

Other comprehensive income (loss):

                        

Unrealized gain (loss) on derivative instruments

     (4,930 )     27,536       6,128  

Unrealized gain (loss) on pension plan obligations

     (1,469 )     1,159       (3,703 )

Other comprehensive income (loss) from discontinued operations

     (495 )     1,900       (1,637 )
    


 


 


Other comprehensive income (loss)

     (6,894 )     30,595       788  
    


 


 


Comprehensive income (loss)

   $ (6,682 )   $ 24,732     $ (25,140 )
    


 


 


 

Reconciliation of Accumulated Other Comprehensive Income (Loss)

 

(in thousands)

 

   Pension Plan
Obligations


    Derivative
Instruments


    Total

 

Balance as of September 30, 2002

   $ (15,745 )   $ 4,918     $ (10,827 )

Reclassification to earnings

     —         (7,745 )     (7,745 )

Unrealized loss on pension plan obligations

     (1,469 )     —         (1,469 )

Unrealized gain on derivative instruments

     —         2,815       2,815  

Other comprehensive loss from discontinued operations

     —         (495 )     (495 )
    


 


 


Other comprehensive loss

     (1,469 )     (5,425 )     (6,894 )

Balance as of September 30, 2003

     (17,214 )     (507 )     (17,721 )

Reclassification to earnings

     —         (10,870 )     (10,870 )

Unrealized gain on pension plan obligations

     1,159       —         1,159  

Unrealized gain on derivative instruments

     —         38,406       38,406  

Other comprehensive income from discontinued operations

     —         1,900       1,900  
    


 


 


Other comprehensive income

     1,159       29,436       30,595  

Balance as of September 30, 2004

     (16,055 )     28,929       12,874  

Reclassification to earnings

     —         (34,901 )     (34,901 )

Unrealized loss on pension plan obligations

     (3,703 )     —         (3,703 )

Unrealized gain on derivative instruments

     —         41,029       41,029  

Other comprehensive loss from discontinued operations

     —         (1,637 )     (1,637 )
    


 


 


Other comprehensive income (loss)

     (3,703 )     4,491       788  

Balance as of September 30, 2005

   $ (19,758 )   $ 33,420     $ 13,662  
    


 


 


 

See accompanying notes to consolidated financial statements.

 

F-6


Table of Contents

STAR GAS PARTNERS, L.P. AND SUBSIDIARIES

CONSOLIDATED STATEMENTS OF PARTNERS’ CAPITAL

Years Ended September 30, 2003, 2004 and 2005

 

    Number of Units

 

Common


   

Sr.

Sub.