Energy holding company

Questar

(STR)

said Friday it expects 2001 first-quarter and full-year earnings to surpass Wall Street's estimates thanks to higher natural gas prices.

For its first quarter ending March 1, Questar said it will report earnings 10% to 20% higher than the

First Call/Thomson Financial

consensus estimate of 67 cents a share. In the year-ago period, the company earned 55 cents a share.

Questar also anticipates 2001 full-year earnings, barring a radical gas-price drop or other unexpected events, will meet or exceed First Call/Thomson Financial's consensus estimate of $1.99 a share. In the same period a year ago the company earned $1.74 a share.

Questar, which is based in Salt Lake City, operates two divisions: energy development and production, and interstate gas transmission and storage.

Shares of Questar lost 9 cents, or 0.3%, to $29.51 in recent

New York Stock Exchange

trading.