NEW YORK (AP) ¿ China Natural Gas Inc. on Tuesday said its third-quarter profit declined 9.5 percent as higher operating expenses more than offset a boost in sales.

The cost of operations jumped in the most recent quarter, mainly due to additional expenses related to the acquisition of Lingbao Natural Gas Co. and the addition of 3 new fueling stations added since the third quarter of 2008.

Those added stations, and an increase in residential and commercial pipeline customers, raised revenue levels for the quarter, helping to soften the blow.

The company, which distributes natural gas in China, said third-quarter earnings fell to $4.6 million, or 29 cents per share, compared with $5.1 million, or 35 cents per share, during the same period last year.

Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters estimated a profit of 30 cents per share, on average. Analysts typically exclude one-time items.

Revenue climbed 9.4 percent to $20.1 million from $18.4 million in the prior-year period. Analysts' average forecast was for revenue of $19.8 million.

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