Puget Energy Swings to Profit

It beats estimates.
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Puget Energy

(PSD)

swung to a profit in the fourth quarter, aided by an higher demand for gas due to colder weather. Earnings in the fourth quarter of 2004 were depressed by a $75 million charge from discontinued operations.

The Washington-based utilities company earned $64.84 million, or 60 cents a share, compared with a loss of $15.69 million in the corresponding quarter last year. Earnings from continuing operations fell by about 5% to $56.3 million, or 52 cents a share, from the previous year.

Analysts polled by Thomson First Call were expecting earnings of 48 cents a share in the recent quarter.

Fourth quarter revenue rose 20% from a year ago to $831.1 million, beating analysts' estimates of $695.98 million.

Puget Energy expects earnings of $1.40 to $1.55 a share for the year 2006. The Wall Street consensus estimate is at $1.47 a share.

Higher revenue was partially offset by higher operating expenses, which grew by about 24% to $737.88 million in the latest quarter. The operating margin fell by about 300 basis points to 11.21%.

Puget Energy sold 15 million shares in a secondary offering and raised about $310 million, which were used to reduce short-term debt. The outstanding shares of the company increased by 3.2 million to 103.1 million.

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