TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) ¿ Westar Energy Inc. on Thursday said the coolest summer in more than 40 years led to a larger-than-expected 8 percent decline in third-quarter profits. The largest electric utility in Kansas reported earning $81 million, or 73 cents per share, during the July-September period, below the 76-cent profit that analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters were expecting. By comparison, Westar earned $88 million, or 80 cents per share, during the same period a year ago. Westar said the earnings numbers reflected a slight increase in the number of shares. Revenue during the quarter fell 8 percent from $574.9 million to $528.5 million, well below the $587.8 million analysts were predicting. The Topeka-based company said retail energy sales declined about 1.2 percent as cooler temperatures cut down on air conditioning and the struggling economy reduced use by the company's industrial customers. The losses were partly offset by higher rates. Wholesale energy sales, representing excess energy sold to other utilities, dropped 38 percent because of lower rates and demand.
The lack of need to buy energy from other utilities, as well as lower fuel costs, helped offset a 22 percent increase in operating and maintenance expenses, the company said. Westar said it affirmed its full-year expectation of earnings between $1.35 and $1.45 per share. The earnings guidance has been reduced twice so far this year due to the slumping economy and cooler temperatures. Analysts are expecting annual profits of $1.45 per share on $1.87 billion in revenue. Westar released its earnings after trading ended Thursday. During trading, the company's shares remained flat at $19.62.