Entergy expects slightly higher second quarter profit

Published 4:54 am Friday, July 18, 2008

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Power provider Entergy Corp. said Thursday it expects its second-quarter earnings to rise because of higher sales at its regulated utility units, as well as on the wholesale market.

But the guidance fell below that of Wall Street analysts, leading investors to drive down Entergy shares $4.95, or 4.3 percent, to close at $110.66.

Entergy said it expected earnings to come in at about $1.36 per share, up from $1.32 for the second quarter of 2007. Earnings before special items are expected to total $1.45 per share.

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The latest results will include an expense adjustment for the company’s planned spin-off of its non-utility nuclear division, which includes nuclear generators in the Northeast and Michigan.

Entergy said its non-utility nuclear plants had higher production due to fewer outage days and the addition of the Palisades generator in Michigan, along with higher prices.

Usage from the company’s regulated power utilities in Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas, and Arkansas also increased because of warmer-than-normal weather, Entergy said.

Per-share earnings also will be boosted by a reduction in the number of outstanding shares, due to the company’s recent repurchasing program, Entergy said.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial expect the company to earn $1.56 per share for the second quarter. Those forecasts typically exclude special items.

Entergy said it continues to expect full-year earnings between $6.50 and $6.90 per share. Thomson-surveyed analysts expect 2008 profit of $6.83 per share.

Entergy’s shares have traded in a 52-week range of $91.94 to $127.48.