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Southland utilities fuel Sempra's earnings rise

May 03, 2008|From Bloomberg News

Sempra Energy's first-quarter profit increased 6.1%, boosted by higher earnings at the San Diego company's natural gas utilities.

Net income climbed to $242 million, or 92 cents a share, from $228 million, or 86 cents, a year earlier, Sempra said Friday. Sempra was expected to earn 84 cents a share, according to a Bloomberg survey. Revenue rose 8.9% to $3.27 billion.

Southern California Gas Co. and San Diego Gas & Electric Co., which are owned by Sempra, had combined quarterly profit of $131 million, up 12% from a year earlier. Earnings at Los Angeles-based Southern California Gas, the largest gas utility in the U.S., rose 3.6% to $57 million. San Diego Gas & Electric's profit increased 19% to $74 million after resolution of income tax issues.

"The important businesses, and it's the businesses that people care about, are performing quite well at the moment," said Jonathan Monk, who helps oversee investments at Aerion Fund Management in London.

Sempra shares rose $1.92, or 3.4%, to $58.80.

Profit at Sempra's power-generation unit dropped 17% to $45 million, while net income at its pipelines and storage division rose 63% to $26 million after the start-up of a western portion of the Rockies Express Pipeline. Earnings at its commodities business fell 17% to $59 million.

Sempra is growing with investments in liquefied natural gas projects and a pipeline venture. The company is building gas-import terminals in Louisiana and Mexico, and has joined with Kinder Morgan Energy Partners and ConocoPhillips on a pipeline project that would carry gas from the Rocky Mountains to the Northeast.

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