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Avista predicts weak 3Q profit, cuts year outlook

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) -- Avista said on Monday that third-quarter profit would drop 46 percent from a year ago, and cut its guidance for the year. Its forecast for 2013 also fell short of Wall Street analysts' prediction.

The utility, based in Spokane, Wash., blamed the shortfall on weak results at its Ecova subsidiary, which helps companies manage energy consumption, along with losses at its non-utility businesses.

Avista Corp. expects net income of $5.8 million, or 10 cents per share, for the quarter ended Sept. 30. That's down from $10.7 million, or 18 cents per share, a year ago. Analysts polled by FactSet expect a profit of 20 cents per share.

The company's full third-quarter results come out Nov. 6.

Because of the weak third quarter, Avista forecast profit of $1.50 to $1.60 per share for the year. It had previously predicted profit would come in at the low end of a $1.65 to $1.85 per share range. Analysts expect a 2012 profit of $1.65 per share.

Avista also predicted a 2013 profit of $1.62 to $1.76 per share, below analysts' prediction of $1.82 per share. The company expects general rate increases to lift utility earnings, but it warned that factors including higher costs and tough economic conditions could limit profit gains.