Water utility Aqua America ( WTR) said its fourth-quarter profit declined marginally because of higher expenses.

The company earned $22.2 million, or 17 cents a share, in the quarter, compared with $22.5 million, or 18 cents a share, a year ago. Analysts polled by Thomson First Call were estimating earnings of 18 cents a share.

Fourth-quarter revenue rose 6.5% from a year-ago period to $122.9 million. Analysts were expecting revenue of $125 million in the most recent quarter. Revenue growth was helped by rate increases and acquisitions, the company said.

Operating profit margin for the quarter was 37.5%, down from 42.7% a year ago. The decline was attributed to a rise in fuel prices after Hurricane Katrina.

The company's stock was trading at $27.89, down $1.42, or 4.8%.
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