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Edison's Net Income Tumbles 32%

The temporary closure of a San Onofre generating unit deprived the utility of revenue.

May 08, 2003|Nancy Rivera Brooks | Times Staff Writer

Edison International reported a 32% drop in first-quarter net income Wednesday, primarily because one of the huge generating units at the San Onofre nuclear power plant was shut down for refueling and maintenance.

But Edison, still mopping up from the energy crisis of 2000-01, turned in an otherwise solid performance, said John E. Bryson, chairman and chief executive of the Rosemead-based utility holding company.

"We had a first quarter that exceeded our expectations and are off to a good start for the year," Bryson said in a conference call with analysts and investors. Results from Southern California Edison, the state's second-largest electricity utility, were good and Edison Mission Energy, which builds power plants, narrowed its losses for "a better-than-expected outcome," he said.

Net income for the quarter ended March 31 fell to $57 million, or 17 cents a share, from $84 million, or 26 cents, in the quarter last year. Revenue rose to $2.53 billion from $2.49 billion.

Operating earnings were $66 million, or 20 cents a share, down from $79 million, or 24 cents, in the year-ago quarter.

Analysts on average had expected operating earnings of 26 cents a share, according to Thomson First Call. Edison's stock price slipped 39 cents, or 2.6%, to $14.87 on the New York Stock Exchange.

"In general it was not a bad quarter, and the outlook looks fairly positive," said Jeffrey Gildersleeve, a utility analyst with Argus Research Corp.

Edison said the lower earnings largely reflect the planned 41-day refueling closure of San Onofre Unit 3, one of two 1,100-megawatt electricity-generating units at the nuclear power plant just south of San Clemente. During the refueling, which deprived the utility of revenue, depleted uranium was replaced and maintenance was performed.

First-quarter results also included a $9-million charge because of an accounting change at Edison Mission Energy in 2003 and $5 million in earnings from discontinued operations in 2002.

Southern California Edison earned $102 million in the first quarter compared with $146 million in the same period last year. In addition to the San Onofre outage, the power utility had to contend with storm damage and higher health-care costs.

Edison Mission Energy posted a first-quarter loss of $8 million compared with a loss of $41 million in the first quarter of 2002. The improvement came because of higher power prices during the quarter, Edison said.

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