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Entergy 3Q profit climbs on higher nuclear energy prices

Utility holding company Entergy Corp. said Tuesday that its third-quarter earnings rose 11 percent on the crest of higher prices for nuclear energy.

For the July-through-September period, Entergy posted earnings of $388.9 million, or $1.83 per share, on revenue of $3.25 billion, compared with year-ago earnings in the third quarter of $350 million, or $1.65 percent, on revenue $2.9 billion.

Entergy said operating earnings jumped to $382.6 million, or $1.80 per share, from $357.1 million, or $1.68 per share.

On Oct. 17, Entergy said it expected third-quarter earnings of $1.86 per share, along with operating earnings of $1.83 cents per share. The company blamed the lower results on a 3-cent-per-share charge resulting from a federal regulatory decision issued on Oct. 25.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial had forecast per-share earnings, on an operating basis, of $1.82 per share along with revenue of $2.75 billion.

Energy Nuclear, which owns and operates nuclear generating plants in the South and Northeast, earned $106.9 million, or 50 cents per share, on both an operational and net basis, compared with $69.3 million, or 33 cents per share, a year ago, Entergy said. Earnings in that unit jumped because of higher power prices, fewer plant outages and increased generation, the company said.

Excluding Entergy New Orleans, which is in federal bankruptcy protection because of Hurricane Katrina, regulated residential power sales rose 1 percent, on a weather-adjusted basis, during the third quarter, while commercial and government sales rose two percent. Industrial sales were up 4 percent, Entergy said.

Entergy reiterated its 2006 financial outlook for operating earnings between $4.50 and $4.80 per share, in line with analyst expectations for $4.66 per share.

For 2007, the company expects net income and operating earnings to range from $5.40 to $5.70 per share. Earnings guidance excludes Entergy New Orleans.

In morning trading on the New York Stock Exchange, Entergy shares were down 5 cents, or .06 percent, at $85.56. Its shares have traded in a 52-week range of $66.78 to $86.86.