Energy and communications company

Black Hills

(BKH) - Get Report

saw its first-quarter net income drop by more than 50% as the prices of fuel and electricity fell sharply.

The company said it earned $14.0 million, or 52 cents a share, down from $32.1 million, or $1.37 a share, from the year-ago quarter. The results came in well ahead of analysts' lowered estimates of 46 cents a share, according to Thomson Financial/First Call.

Quarterly revenue fell to $302 million from $566 million a year ago, as Black Hills saw a substantial decrease in the prices for natural gas, crude oil, and wholesale electricity, coupled with an increase in production across the board.

In a press release, the company said the price for wholesale electricity fell to $26 per magawatt hour from $280 per megawatt hour a year ago. Natural gas prices also plunged during the quarter. Black Hills said its results came in ahead of estimates due to its "diversified asset base" that included improved communications results and strong performance by the company's electric utility.

Shares of Black Hills closed at $34.07 Friday on the

New York Stock Exchange