posted a 76% increase in fourth-quarter net earnings, helped by higher margins on natural gas and electricity.
The company earned $74 million, or 65 cents a share, in the quarter, compared with $42 million or 37 cents a share, a year ago. Analysts polled by Thomson First Call were expecting earnings of $68.43 million, or 60 cents a share.
Fourth-quarter revenue rose 42%, from a year ago to $1.50 billion. Analysts were expecting revenue of $ 1.10 billion in the fourth quarter.
For the year 2006, the company expects to earn $2.80 a share to $2.95 a share. Analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call were estimating earnings of $2.91 a share.
Earnings rose 76% on increased sales of natural gas and electricity. Revenue from the regulated gas business rose 52% from a year ago to $531 million; revenue from the non-regulated gas business rose 62% to $521 million; and sales of electricity rose 15% to $440 million. The South Carolina regulator approved in October 2005 higher retail rates for natural gas which contributed 2 cents a share to the earnings, the company said.
This story was created through a joint venture between TheStreet.com and IRIS.