WRAPUP 2-Dominion, AEP, Xcel Q4 profits beat; cos back FY view

Thu Jan 28, 2010 12:28pm EST

* Dominion - Looking for modestly improving economy in '10

* AEP - Not seeing continued decline in sales

* Rev at all three cos falls short of expectations

* Dominion, AEP, Xcel shares fall 1 pct (Adds details from conf calls, updates share movement)

By Hezron Selvi and Adveith Nair

BANGALORE, Jan 28 (Reuters) - Power producers Dominion Resources Inc (D.N), American Electric Power Co (AEP.N) and Xcel Energy Inc (XEL.N) posted better-than-expected quarterly profits and backed their full-year earnings outlooks, indicating confidence that the economy is turning around.

"The best news is that we aren't seeing a continued decline in sales," AEP Chief Executive Michael Morris said in a statement.

On a conference call with analysts, executives at Richmond, Virginia-based Dominion echoed Moriss' views.

"The Virginia economy has held up relatively well during the economic downturn... we are looking for a modestly improving economy in 2010," Dominion Chief Executive Thomas Farrell said, adding that he was "optimistic" about 2010.

Executives at Minneapolis-based Xcel said while 2009 was largely defined by sluggish electric retail sales, "we do retain some slight optimism for 2010."

AEP's Morris noted that industrial sales showed a slight uptick in December, but cautioned that one month does not represent a trend.

He said residential and commercial sales, an area of significant year-on-year growth before the recession, have stalled, but did not decline as much as expected.

However, a weak economy did manage to put a damper on fourth-quarter electricity sales, and revenue at all three companies came in below consensus estimates.

Dominion reported the largest drop. Fourth-quarter revenue at the company fell 22 percent to $3.27 billion, well short of analysts estimates of about $4 billion. [ID:nN28146487]

Xcel reported sales of $2.62 billion, down 3 percent from a year-ago, and way below consensus estimates of $3.50 billion. [ID:nSGE60R0HX]

And while AEP reported a slight uptick in revenue -- up 3 percent at $3.3 billion -- this was still below the $3.5 billion that analysts had expected. [ID:nN28187085].

This mirrored Southern Co's (SO.N) results. On Wednesday, the company reported sales way short of estimates, but edged past Wall Street's profit expectations. [ID:nSGE60P0CW]

Profit at Columbus, Ohio-based AEP climbed to 50 cents a share, from 38 cents a share a year earlier. This topped analysts' average forecast of a profit of 46 cents per share.

Xcel reported a fourth-quarter profit of 37 cents a share, 1 cent above both Wall Street estimates and its year-ago profit of 36 cents a share.

Excluding one-time items, Dominion earned 63 cents per share, topping the 60 cents a share profit that analysts had forecast.

Shares of all three companies were down about 1 percent Thursday afternoon the New York Stock Exchange. (Editing by Mike Miller and Gopakumar Warrier)

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