Piedmont Natural Gas (NYSE: PNY) reported earnings on Sep. 7. Here are the numbers you need to know.

The 10-second takeaway
For the quarter ended July 31 (Q3), Piedmont Natural Gas whiffed on revenues and exceeded expectations on earnings per share.

Compared to the prior-year quarter, revenue dropped significantly and GAAP loss per share shrank.

Gross margins improved, operating margins shrank, net margins expanded.

Revenue details
Piedmont Natural Gas reported revenue of $161.1 million. The three analysts polled by S&P Capital IQ wanted to see a top line of $189.8 million on the same basis. GAAP reported sales were 18% lower than the prior-year quarter's $197.3 million.

Source: S&P Capital IQ. Quarterly periods. Dollar amounts in millions. Non-GAAP figures may vary to maintain comparability with estimates.

EPS details
EPS came in at -$0.06. The five earnings estimates compiled by S&P Capital IQ forecast -$0.09 per share. GAAP EPS were -$0.06 for Q3 compared to -$0.12 per share for the prior-year quarter.

Source: S&P Capital IQ. Quarterly periods. Non-GAAP figures may vary to maintain comparability with estimates.

Margin details
For the quarter, gross margin was 16.9%, 240 basis points better than the prior-year quarter. Operating margin was -4.1%, 70 basis points worse than the prior-year quarter. Net margin was -2.9%, 150 basis points better than the prior-year quarter.

Looking ahead
Next quarter's average estimate for revenue is $196.0 million. On the bottom line, the average EPS estimate is -$0.08.

Next year's average estimate for revenue is $1.14 billion. The average EPS estimate is $1.59.

Investor sentiment
The stock has a five-star rating (out of five) at Motley Fool CAPS, with 173 members out of 188 rating the stock outperform, and 15 members rating it underperform. Among 56 CAPS All-Star picks (recommendations by the highest-ranked CAPS members), 54 give Piedmont Natural Gas a green thumbs-up, and two give it a red thumbs-down.

Of Wall Street recommendations tracked by S&P Capital IQ, the average opinion on Piedmont Natural Gas is hold, with an average price target of $30.67.

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Seth Jayson had no position in any company mentioned here at the time of publication. You can view his stock holdings here. He is co-advisor of Motley Fool Hidden Gems, which provides new small-cap ideas every month, backed by a real-money portfolio. The Motley Fool has no positions in the stocks mentioned above. Motley Fool newsletter services recommend Piedmont Natural Gas Company. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.