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Entergy Swings To 1Q Loss On Charges, Lower Revenue

DOW JONES NEWSWIRES Entergy Corp. (ETR) swung to a first-quarter loss as lower revenue, unfavorable weather and prices, and several special charges weakened the bottom line. Last week, the merchant power and utility company warned of weaker first-quarter earnings and lowered its full-year profit guidance, pointing to unfavorable weather, along with updated pension assumption and lower market energy prices. Entergy in December unveiled plans to spin off its electric transmission business and merge the operation with ITC Holdings Corp. (ITC). The deal is expected to allow Entergy to reduce its debt and focus on its utilities in four states and its fleet of nuclear power plants, which are expected to require substantial investments over the next several years. The company remains in legal disputes over its Vermont and New York nuclear power plants' operations. Entergy reported a loss of $151.7 million, or 86 cents a share, compared with a year-earlier profit of $248.7 million, or $1.38 a share. Excluding special items in the latest quarter, earnings were 44 cents. The company last week said it expected operating earnings of 43 cents, well below estimates at the time, saying the period would include charges for impairments at the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant and expenses tied to the proposed spinoff and merger of its electric transmission business. Revenue shrank 6.2% to $2.38 billion. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters most recently projected $2.5 billion. Operating margin swung to negative 2.4% from positive 20.1%. Earnings at its utilities business fell 62% to $62.9 million, caused by about $46 million in higher taxes from a write-off. The wholesale commodities segment posted a loss of $168.5 million, compared with year-earlier earnings of $122.6 million. The company said the bottom line at both segment fell due in part to weaker revenues and higher non-fuel operation and maintenance expense. Total electricity sales volumes fell 4.1% as residential sales dropped 14%. Wholesale volume was down 23%. Shares of Entergy, which affirmed its full-year earnings view, closed Wednesday at $65.76 and were inactive premarket. The stock is down 10% this year. -By Ben Fox Rubin, Dow Jones Newswires; 212-416-3108;

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