Spectra Energy 1Q earnings slide 7 percent

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Associated Press

Posted on May 4, 2012 at 10:01 AM

Updated Friday, May 4 at 10:02 AM

HOUSTON (AP) — Natural gas pipeline operator Spectra Energy Corp.'s first quarter earnings fell almost 7 percent in part because a warm winter drove down customer use.

The Houston company said Friday its net income dropped to $333 million, or 51 cents per share, in the three months that ended March 31 from $357 million, or 55 cents per share, a year ago.

Revenue fell 4 percent to $1.54 billion from $1.61 billion a year ago.

Analysts expected, on average, earnings of 52 cents per share on $1.62 billion in revenue, according to FactSet.

Earnings before interest and taxes fell in three of the company's four business segments. The figure dropped to $271 million from $279 million in the U.S. Transmission segment, partially because of contract reductions at Ozark Gas Transmission LLC and accelerated software amortization costs.

Distribution segment earnings before interest and taxes dropped more than 9 percent to $151 million mainly due to warmer weather that reduced customer use. Lower operating fuel costs partially offset this. Earnings from the Western Canada Transmission and Processing segment fell 2 percent to $138 million.

Spectra Energy's operating expenses also fell 3 percent to about $1.03 billion in the quarter.

Its shares fell 46 cents, or 1.5 percent, to $30.19 in morning trading. Its shares are down from their 52-week peak of $32.27 set in mid-March. They are up 32 percent from their low of $22.80 per share in August.

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