MERRILLVILLE, Ind. (AP) ¿ Gas and electric utility NiSource Inc. said Friday its first-quarter net profit rose 49 percent, as its loss from discontinued operations fell. The company reported a net profit of $148.4 million, or 58 cents per share, up from $99.3 million, or 36 cents per share, in last year's period. The loss from discontinued operations was $200,000, down from $96.2 million in the same quarter the previous year. The company sold Northern Utilities and Granite State Gas Transmission for about $200 million in December and Whiting Clean Energy for about $217 million in April last year. Income from continuing operations fell 16 percent to $159.3 million, or 58 cents per share, from $189.5 million, or 69 cents per share a year earlier. Revenue fell 17 percent to $2.72 billion from $3.29 billion. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected, on average, a profit of 62 cents per share on revenue of $2.66 billion for the quarter. Analyst estimates typically exclude one-time items. NiSource delivers energy to 3.8 million customers in the Midwest and the Northeast United States. NiSource shares rose 25 cents, or 2.3 percent, to close at $11.24 on Friday.
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