NiSource profit up 24% on lower costs

Posted May 4, 2010 at 6:04 a.m.

Associated Press | NiSource Inc.’s first-quarter profit rose 24
percent on lower costs, while revenue fell in its biggest gas
distribution business.

The Midwest and Northeast electricity, natural gas and water utility
has seen signs of recovery after struggling last year amid a drop in
industrial demand and a cool summer. Merillville, Ind.-based NiSource serves 3.7 million
customers in the Gulf Coast, Midwest and New England.

President and Chief Executive Robert Skaggs Jr. said that the company’s first quarter results reflected a modest uptick in industrial and residential demand in Indiana partially attributable to economic recovery. “Although it is too early to identify a definitive trend, we continue to see a gradual and modest pace of economic recovery across the markets served by our utilities,” Skaggs said.

For the latest period, the company reported a profit of $197.3 million, or 71 cents a share, up from $159.4 million, or 58 cents a share, a year earlier. Excluding restructuring and other impacts, earnings rose to 72 cents from 62 cents.

Gross revenue fell 16 percent to $2.05 billion.

Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters had most recently estimated earnings of 68 cents and $2.16 billion in sales.

Sales in the company’s gas distribution business, historically its largest, fell 22 perent while electric generation revenue rose 4 percent.

Shares of NiSource, which affirmed its 2010 guidance, closed Monday at $16.67 and weren’t active premarket.


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