Shares of BGE parent decline

One-time charge causes Constellation to lose $26.8 million

Utilities

January 22, 2000|By Shanon D. Murray | Shanon D. Murray,SUN STAFF

Constellation Energy Group, parent of Baltimore Gas and Electric Co., said yesterday that it lost $26.8 million, or 18 cents per share, in the fourth quarter.

The company said the decline from a profit of $13.2 million, or 9 cents per share, for the fourth period a year ago was primarily because of a $66.3 million one-time charge related to the July 1 deregulation of Maryland's energy market.

Without the one-time charge, Constellation's earnings for the quarter, which ended Dec. 31, were $39.5 million, or 26 cents a share.

"While the electric restructuring settlement has caused some initial pain, it was critical to get this matter resolved in order to eliminate the uncertainty associated with electric restructuring," said Christian H. Poindexter, Constellation's chairman and chief executive officer.

"Resolution of this issue has provided the framework that will allow the company to pursue its business strategy more effectively, as the ground rules for the energy business in Maryland have become more clearly defined," he said.

Constellation officials have said the company's post-deregulation strategy includes focusing on power marketing and generation to make up for revenue it might lose when its 1.1 million electric customers in Central Maryland will be able to choose their power provider.

Constellation's earnings for the year declined to $260.1 million, or $1.74 per share, including the one-time charge, from $305.9 million, or $2.06 per share, for the previous year.

For the quarter, Constellation's revenue rose to $1.1 billion, compared with $790.4 million for the quarter a year earlier. For the year, Constellation's revenue rose to $3.9 billion, compared with $3.4 billion for the year before.

Total electric sales to customers in 1999 increased 1.7 percent, reflecting customer growth, increased usage per customer and colder winter weather, the company said.

Total natural gas sales to customers increased 5.1 percent in 1999.

BGE's fossil fuel power plants produced 19.4 million megawatt hours, compared with 19 million megawatt hours in 1998.

Constellation's shares gained 62.5 cents yesterday to close at $29 on the New York Stock Exchange.

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