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Exelon 4Q profit falls, plans to cut dividend

CHICAGO (AP) -- Exelon Corp., the nation's largest supplier of wholesale electric power, said Thursday said its fourth-quarter profit fell, hurt by lower power generations profitability, and announced plans to cut its dividend.

Exelon earned $378 million, or 44 cents per share, down from $606 million, or 91 cents per share, in the same quarter the year before. Exelon closed on its purchase of Constellation Energy in March, so the results are not comparable.

Excluding one-time items, the company said it posted adjusted earnings of 64 cents per share for the recent period.

Revenue rose 44 percent to $6.28 billion from $4.36 billion.

The profit fell short of Wall Street predictions. Analysts, on average, expected a profit of 65 cents per share on $5.91 billion in revenue, according to FactSet.

The Chicago-based company runs the most nuclear plants in the U.S., and has operations in 47 states, Washington DC and Canada. Adjusted profit at its generation business dropped 21 percent to $283 million, as weaker pricing and higher nuclear fuel costs reduced its profitability. In addition, the business was hit with higher operating and maintenance expenses, along with higher interest costs.

Exelon declared a first-quarter dividend of 52.5 cents, but said its second-quarter dividend may only be 31 cents. The first-quarter dividend will be paid on March 8 to shareholders of record as of Feb. 19.

"We have revised our dividend, effective with the second-quarter 2013 dividend, to position us to maintain our investment-grade rating, return a stable dividend and provide capacity to invest in growth," Christopher Crane, Exelon's president and CEO, said in a statement.

For the full year 2012, the company earned $1.16 billion, or $1.42 per share, down from $2.5 billion, or $3.75 per share, in 2011. Revenue rose to $23.49 billion from $19.06 billion.

Exelon also said Thursday that it expects to post an adjusted 2013 profit of $2.35 to $2.65 per share, while analysts expect $2.52 per share.

Exelon shares rose 52 cents to $31.50 in afternoon trading.