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FPL Earnings Edge Higher

It beats estimates thanks to warmer-than-normal weather.
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said third-quarter earnings rose 6% from a year ago thanks to warmer weather and an expanded user base. The company said it remains unable to predict the impact of Hurricane Wilma on its full-year results.

The Florida energy company earned $339 million, or 87 cents a share, in the quarter, compared with $320 million, or 88 cents a share, a year ago. Excluding a charge related to hedge accounting, the company earned $395 million, or $1.01 a share, in the most recent quarter. The period also included an expense of 2 cents a share related to hurricanes.

Analysts polled by Thomson First Call had been expecting earnings of 95 cents a share.

"The quarter saw cooling degree days 18% above normal, while last year's results were depressed by approximately $20 million due to hurricane impacts. Absent the favorable weather comparisons, FPL's earnings would have been down, reflecting the expenses associated with the introduction to service of 1,900 megawatts of new generating capacity at the Martin and Manatee sites needed to meet growth in demand," the company said.

Revenue was $3.50 billion in the quarter, up from $2.98 billion. Analysts had been expecting $3.24 billion in the latest quarter.

FPL noted that within its region, the most destructive storm of the season was Hurricane Wilma, which hit on Oct. 18 after the third quarter ended.

"Given the results to date and prior to the impact of Hurricane Wilma, FPL Group would have expected adjusted earnings for the full-year 2005 to be $2.50 to $2.60 per share. However, Hurricane Wilma will clearly have a negative impact in the fourth quarter but its magnitude cannot be estimated at present," the company said. Analysts were forecasting earnings of $2.52 a share in the year.

For 2006, FPL sees earnings of $2.80 to $2.90 a share, compared with the Thomson First Call consensus estimate of $2.81 a share. For 2007, it sees earnings of $3.15 to $3.35 a share, compared with the Thomson First Call consensus estimate of $3.06 a share.