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Entergy Corp. reports 1st quarter earnings

Entergy Corp. reported a 46-percent rise in first-quarter earnings Friday, helped in part by higher power prices and revenues.

The power provider reported earnings of $308.7 million, or $1.56 a share, on revenue of $2.86 billion. That compared with earnings of $212.2 million, or $1.03 a share, on revenue of $2.69 billion, for the first three months of 2007.

Analysts expected earnings of $1.51 per share on revenue of $2.99 billion, according to a Thomson Financial survey.

Entergy’s chairman and chief executive, J. Wayne Leonard, said his company is “on track for a year of solid accomplishments.”

“Operating results for the quarter reflect strong business performance” even as Entergy moves ahead with plans to spin off its non-utility nuclear business, he said. The company hopes to complete the spin-off around the third quarter.

It credited higher power prices and production at a plant acquired in the second quarter of 2007 with boosting nuclear earnings from $128.2 million, or 62 cents a share, during the first quarter of 2007 to $221.7 million, or $1.12 a share, in the first quarter of this year.

Entergy also said it has picked Enexus Energy Corp. as the name for the independent, publicly traded nuclear power company it plans to spin off. Entergy last fall said it wanted to separate its non-utility nuclear business from its rate-regulated utility business in an effort to boost that business’ profitability. Enexus, it says, is a combination of the words energy and nexus, meant to describe “nuclear power’s role in the nexus between the world’s growing energy demand and the United States’ need for clean, environmentally friendly power.”

Entergy has chosen EquaGen LLC as the name of the joint venture it and Enexus will co-own and that will run the six nuclear reactors slated to be spun off.

All but one of the reactors are in the Northeast; the other is in Michigan. Enexus will be based in Jackson, Miss.

Alex Schott, an Entergy spokesman, said the goal remains to “create value for shareholders.”

Entergy shares were at $113.46 in early afternoon trading Friday and closed at $113.21. The shares have traded in a 52-week range of $91.94 to $127.48.