U.S. Markets open in 7 hrs 15 mins

Entergy 3Q profit falls 46 pct without tax benefit

NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- Electric power company Entergy Corp. reported a 46 percent drop in third quarter earnings Monday due to comparisons with the year-ago period, when the company received favorable tax terms on costs for fixing damage to lines and equipment caused by hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

The utility posted net income of $337.1 million, or $1.89 per share, for the three months ended Sept. 30. That was down from $628.1 million or $3.53 per share for the third quarter of 2011.

Revenue fell 13 percent to $2.96 billion from $3.39 billion last year, due to the impact of weather, including Hurricane Isaac.

Analysts polled by FactSet, on average, were looking for earnings per share of $2.01 on revenue of $3.39 billion.

Fuel costs dropped 30 percent to $596.3 million. Other maintenance and operating costs rose about 8 percent to $765.32 million.

The big difference in the quarter came in taxes. Entergy booked income tax expenses of $232.5 million for the period, compared with a credit of $119.1 million last year.

Entergy serves 2.8 million customers in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. Retail sales to those customers were basically flat for the quarter, after accounting for weather. Sales to industrial customers decreased 2.5 percent for the quarter. Weather-adjusted sales are closely-watched because they show the underlying demand for power from homes and businesses.

The company expects earnings per share to fall at the upper end of a $3.44 and $4.24 range for the year. Adjusted results are expected to fall between $4.60 and $5.40.

Wall Street was forecasting full-year earnings of $5.45 per share, on average, with estimates ranging from $5.08 to $5.65.

Entergy shares fell $3.58, or 5 percent, to $67.65 in afternoon trading. The stock has changed hands between $62.97 and $74.50 in the past 52 weeks, and started the day down about 2.5 percent since the beginning of the year.