, the parent company of Washington Gas Light Company, reported a marginal rise in its first quarter earnings on higher sales. The company also lowered its fiscal 2006 earnings guidance.
The utilities company earned $44.4 million, or 91 cents a share, in the first quarter, compared with $43.1 million, or 88 cents a share, for the same period a year ago. Adjusted earnings from normal operations were 84 cents a share, below the Thomson First Call consensus estimate of 86 cents a share.
First quarter revenue, which includes net revenue from utility operations and non-utility operations, surged 32% from a year ago to $486.05 million. Analysts were expecting revenue of $410.98 million for the same period.
The revenue increase was partially off-set by the 33.35% increase in the operating expense to $429.63 million. The operating margin was 11.61%, down by 308 basis points.
WGL expects second quarter earnings of $1.17 to $1.23 a share, and 2006 profits of $1.81 to $1.91 a share. Its old guidance was for earnings of $1.85 to $1.95 a share. Analysts were expecting earnings of $1.56 a share in the quarter and $1.90 a share in the year.
"Our utility customer growth remains strong, and the implementation in the first quarter of our new revenue normalization adjustment in Maryland contributed favorably to our reported results. This mechanism, along with weather insurance in the District of Columbia and a weather derivative in Virginia, is providing us with protection against the effects of warmer-than-normal weather that we have experienced so far in the second fiscal quarter," the company said.
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