Updated from 8:32 a.m. EDTA handful of energy-related companies reported generally solid earnings Wednesday, led by Dynegy ( DYN), which blew away analyst estimates thanks to strength in its power generation and natural gas units. Dynegy earned $69 million, or 15 cents a share, in the latest quarter, compared with $147 million, or 17 cents a share, last year. The year-ago quarter's per-share profit was depressed by a much larger preferred stock obligation and included a $55 million accounting gain. Revenue fell to $1.66 billion from $1.88 billion a year ago. Analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call were forecasting a loss of 2 cents a share on sales of $1.5 billion. The company also updated its guidance for the full year, predicting a loss of 12 cents to 20 cents a share. The Thomson First Call consensus was for a loss of 22 cents a share. The company's power generation unit saw earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortization fall to $139 million from $214 million a year ago because of lower prices. But the segment saw volume jump to 10.1 million net megawatt hours in the first quarter from 9.4 million last year. It cited "the economic advantages of utilizing coal and fuel oil rather than natural gas." Dynegy said EBITDA from its natural gas liquids business rose to $85 million in the first quarter from $69 million last year. The company noted that natural gas prices fell 14% to $5.69 per million British thermal units in the quarter, but remained high by historical standards. Oil was also expensive in the first quarter, boosting earnings at ConocoPhillips ( COP) to $1.62 billion, or $2.33 a share, from $1.22 billion, or $1.79 a share, last year. Revenue was $30.2 billion, up from $27.1 billion last year. Conoco had earnings of $2.31 a share in the latest quarter excluding discontinued operations and an accounting item. On that basis, analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call had been forecasting earnings of $1.99 a share.
Another oil company, Amerada Hess ( AHC), said earnings rose to $281 million, or $2.77 a share, from $176 million, or $1.98 a share, last year. Revenue rose to $4.49 billion from $4.25 billion a year ago. Analysts had been forecasting earnings of $1.67 a share in the latest quarter. Arlington, Va.-based AES ( AES) said earnings fell from a year ago but still came in well above estimates. The power generator earned $48 million, or 8 cents a share, on revenue of $2.26 billion in the latest quarter, compared with earnings of $93 million, or 17 cents a share, on revenue of $1.91 billion last year. Analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call were forecasting earnings of 14 cents in the most recent quarter. AES also repeated full-year earnings guidance of 62 cents a share, excluding a charge, which compares with the analyst consensus of 60 cents a share. Atlanta utility Southern Co. ( SO) said first-quarter earnings rose to $331 million, or 45 cents a share, from $298 million, or 41 cents a share, last year. Analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call had been forecasting 37 cents a share. Revenue jumped 8% to $2.75 billion.