Entergy expects earnings below forecasts

Published 8:26 pm Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Utility holding company Entergy Corp. said Tuesday it expects higher first-quarter earnings, but profit will miss Wall Street forecasts.

Despite the reports, investors still drove Entergy stock to a 52-week high.

For the quarter ended March 31, Entergy said it expects to report earnings of $1.01 per share, up from 92 cents per share for the first quarter of 2006 — a period during which the company was still recovering from hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

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Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial have forecast per-share earnings of $1.11 per share for the latest quarter.

The earnings jump will be due to better results at Entergy Unit, the company’s unit that owns and manages a nuclear power plant, the company said. Those results will be partially offset by lower results from its regulated power units in Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas and Texas, and its parent and non-nuclear wholesale businesses, the company said.

Although its regulated power businesses posted higher revenue because of cooler weather than last year, operational results dropped because of higher operation, maintenance, depreciation and interest expenses, the company said.

The company reaffirmed previously issued guidance, saying it expects 2007 annual earnings to range from $5.40 to $5.70.

Entergy’s unit, Entergy New Orleans Inc., which provides electricity and natural gas service to New Orleans, is in bankruptcy protection after the virtual destruction of its systems in the city during the hurricanes and resulting flooding. Creditors are now voting on two similar reorganization plans that call for all creditors to be paid in full.

The company said it would report first-quarter results on April 26.

In trading on the New York Stock Exchange, Entergy shares closed up 76 cents at $111.89, a new 52-week high. The shares previously had traded in a 52-week range of $66.78 to $111.72.