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PG&E Q1 Profit Rises, Tops View; Backs 2012 Outlook

Public Utility firm PG&E Corp. (PCG), an energy-based holding company that owns Pacific Gas and Electric Co., reported Wednesday a profit for the first quarter that increased from last year, reflecting higher revenues. Adjusted earnings per share for the quarter topped analysts' expectations, while quarterly revenues missed their estimates. The company also reaffirmed its earnings forecast for the full-years 2012.

"Across PG&E, we continued to move ahead with efforts to improve operations and customer service, including further pipeline testing and validation work to affirm the safety of our gas system," Chairman, CEO and President Tony Earley said in a statement.

The San Francisco, California-based company, which conducts business through Pacific Gas and Electric Co., reported consolidated net income of $233 million or $0.56 per share for the first quarter, higher than $199 million or $0.50 per share in the prior-year quarter.

Excluding special items, adjusted earnings from operations for the quarter rose to $372 million or $0.89 per share from $230 million or $0.58 per share in the year-ago quarter.

On average, 11 analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected earnings of $0.75 per share for the first quarter. Analysts' estimates typically exclude special items.

Total operating revenues for the quarter edged up to $3.64 billion from $3.60 billion in the same quarter last year, but missed five Wall Street analysts' consensus estimate of $3.83 billion.

The results for the latest quarter include costs related to the continuing work to validate safe pipeline operating pressures and conduct strength testing, as well as legal and other expenses related to the San Bruno pipeline accident.

The company said it has incurred total costs of $650 million for natural gas pipeline-related actions since the September 2010 San Bruno pipeline accident, all of which have been incurred at shareholders' expense.

Electric revenues for the quarter increased to $2.77 billion from $2.62 billion in the prior-year quarter, while revenues for natural gas were $869 million, lower than $980 million in the year-ago quarter.

PG&E's operating income edged up to $487 million from $484 million in the prior-year quarter, while total operating expenses were $3.15 billion, up from $3.11 billion in the comparable quarter a year ago.

Looking ahead to fiscal 2012, PG&E reaffirmed its adjusted earnings from operations forecast in a range of $3.10 to $3.30 per share. Analysts expect the company to report earnings of $3.19 per share for the full-year 2012.

In Wednesday's regular trading session, PCG is currently trading at $44.20, up $0.01 or 0.02% on a volume of 0.82 million shares.

by RTT Staff Writer

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