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Energy provider NiSource's 2Q profit climbs 6 pct.

MERRILLVILLE, Ind. (AP) -- NiSource Inc.'s second-quarter earnings climbed 6 percent, as the energy provider's gas distribution business piped more revenue into its balance sheet.

The Merrillville, Ind., company said Wednesday that it earned $72.1 million, or 23 cents per share, in the three months that ended June 30. That compares to net income of $68.3 million, or 25 cents per share, in last year's quarter, when it had fewer outstanding shares.

Revenue, before removing the cost of sales, climbed 17 percent to $1.2 billion.

Analysts surveyed by FactSet expected, on average, earnings of 23 cents per share on $1.07 billion in revenue.

NiSource runs a natural gas transmission, storage and distribution business, and it also generates and distributes electricity. Its companies deliver energy to about 3.8 million customers in an area that stretches from the Gulf Coast through the Midwest to New England.

Revenue from the company's gas distribution business jumped 36 percent to $395 million in the quarter, to become its largest source of revenue. The company said gas transportation and storage and electric revenue also climbed.

Operating expenses also climbed more than 10 percent to $666.4 million, as operation and maintenance costs jumped.

NiSource reaffirmed its forecast for adjusted, full-year earnings of $1.50 to $1.60 per share.

The average of analysts' expectations falls in the middle of that range, at $1.55 per share.