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DTE Profit Surges-jb

The Detroit-based utility says earnings tripled.
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DTE Energy

(DTE) - Get DTE Energy Company Report

fourth-quarter earnings tripled from a year ago as nonutility profit surged.

The Detroit-based energy company made $382 million, or $2.14 a share, for the quarter ended Dec. 31, up from the year-ago $113 million, or 65 cents a share. Operating earnings rose to $2.12 a share from 86 cents a year earlier.

DTE operates the Detroit Edison and MichCon utilities, as well as a number of other businesses. It isn't related to Pittsburgh-based

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, which on Tuesday posted a drop in fourth-quarter earnings.

Earnings at Detroit Edison rose to 40 cents in the latest quarter from 39 cents a year earlier. Operating earnings from nonutility operations jumped to $1.60 per diluted share from 47 cents a year earlier, as DTE recognized synfuel earnings deferred from the first three quarters of 2005 in the Power and Industrial Projects segment. The company also benefited from the partial flowback of timing-related accounting adjustments in the Fuel Transportation and Marketing segment.

DTE reaffirmed 2006 profit guidance of $3.60 to $3.90 per diluted share, assuming no oil price-related phaseout of synfuel tax credits. A partial or full phase-out of tax credits would be expected to hurt 2006 results.

"We expect continued strong performance in 2006," said David E. Meador, DTE Energy executive vice president and chief financial officer. "We expect Detroit Edison and MichCon to benefit from reduced costs and increased productivity resulting from our Performance Excellence Process. We also expect Detroit Edison to benefit from the reacquisition of customers from alternate electric suppliers and from the expiration of rate caps on residential customers. In our nonutility businesses, we expect to continue our steadfast focus on value creation while investing in our full pipeline of growth opportunities."

On Wednesday, DTE fell 21 cents to $41.98.