WALL, N.J. (AP) ¿ New Jersey Resources Corp. on Tuesday posted a loss for its fiscal fourth quarter as gas prices dropped, but the natural gas utility raised its dividend.

The company recorded a loss of $18.9 million, or 45 cents per share, in the three months ended Sept. 30. That included losses of $14 million due to hedging of natural gas prices. The Wall, N.J.-based company had net income of $86.3 million, or $2.04 per share, in the same period last year.

Revenue fell by half, to $412.6 million from $827.1 million.

For all of fiscal 2009, New Jersey Resources earned $27.2 million, or 64 cents per share, on revenue of $2.6 billion. In fiscal 2008, it earned $109.2 million, or $2.59 per share, on $3.8 billion in revenue.

The board of New Jersey Resources approved a 3 cent increase in the company's quarterly dividend to 34 cents per share. The new rate will be effective with the dividend payable January 4 to shareholders of record on December 15.

The company also said it expects its "net financial earnings," which exclude the effects of derivatives, to be between $2.45 to $2.60 per basic share in the new fiscal year. In the recently completed fiscal year, net financial earnings were $2.40 per share.

The company's shares rose 92 cents, or 2.6 percent, to $36.15 in afternoon trading.
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