BGE's third-quarter profits fell 20% as cooler weather cut electric bills

October 22, 1994|By John E. Woodruff | John E. Woodruff,Sun Staff Writer

The cool weather that brought relief to Marylanders in August and September also brought a respite from soaring electric bills -- and with it a 20 percent drop in Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. earnings for the all-important third quarter, the utility reported yesterday.

The company reported that in the three months that ended Sept. 30 -- the period when electric utilities traditionally make half or more of their yearly profits -- earnings were $116.7 million, or 79 cents per share. In the same period last year, BGE had earnings of $146.5 million, or $1.01 per share.

Revenues for the quarter were $754 million, down 5.03 percent from $794 million in the same period of 1993.

Combined with an $11 million one-time write-off of engineering expenses, the cooler weather wiped out the earnings advantages the utility had built up in the first two quarters of the year, when a vicious winter and searing early-summer temperatures pushed the utility's earnings 22.3 percent ahead of the first half of 1993.

Nine-month earnings were $245.5 million, or $1.67 a share, down 0.7 percent from last year's $247.1 million, or $1.71 a share.

Nine-month revenues were $2.17 billion, up $93 million, or 4.47 percent, from $2.08 billion for the same period of 1993.

BGE stock closed at $22.75 yesterday, down 25 cents.

The company also declared a dividend of 38 cents a share, the same as for previous quarters of this year, payable Jan. 3 to common stockholders of record as of Dec. 12, 1994.

The one-time write-off was for engineering and permitting expenses for generating equipment that was once planned for BGE's new plant at Perryman.

The scale of that project has been halved, due to changing production and distribution patterns in the electric power industry, by order of the state Public Service Commission. Some of the preparatory costs had to be written off, Arthur J. Slusark, a company spokesman, said.

Alex Hart, a utility analyst for securities house Ferris Baker Watts, said, "The weather swings have been so weird from year to year recently that it's hard to say much about how meaningful the earnings swings of an electric utility may or may not be.

These figures are about what we expected."

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