UPDATE 1-Corrections Corp Q4 profit beats Street, sees weak Q1

Tue Feb 9, 2010 4:58pm EST

* Q4 EPS $0.36 vs est $0.34

* Revenue $427.1 mln vs est $430.7 mln

* Sees Q1 EPS $0.28-$0.30 vs est $0.33

* To buy back up to $250 mln of shrs through June, 2011

* Shares fall 5 pct in extended trade

Feb 9 (Reuters) - Corrections Corp of America (CXW.N) posted a quarterly profit beating market estimates on an increased inmate population, but forecast weak first-quarter earnings on state budget uncertainties, sending its shares down 5 percent in extended trade.

The biggest publicly traded U.S. prison operator also said it would buy back up to $250 million of shares through June 30, 2011.

For the latest fourth quarter, the company reported net income of $42.5 million, or 36 cents a share, compared with $40.5 million, or 32 cents a share, a year earlier.

Revenue rose 4 percent to $427.1 million.

Analysts on average were expecting earnings of 34 cents a share, before items, on revenue of $430.7 million, for the fourth quarter, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Corrections, which competes with GEO Group Inc (GEO.N) and Cornell Companies Inc CRN.N, sees first-quarter earnings of 28 cents to 30 cents a share, while analysts were expecting 33 cents a share.

"State budgets continue to be of concern as states struggle to balance their needs with their revenue, the impact of which is difficult to predict," Chief Executive Damon Hininger said in a statement.

Last month, Corrections said it would idle its 752-bed Huerfano County Correctional Center after Arizona decided not to renew a contract to house the state's prisoners in the facility in Colorado. [ID:nWNAB9259]

Shares of the Nashville, Tennessee-based company fell about 5 percent in after-hours trading. They closed at $17.83 Tuesday on the New York Stock Exchange. (Reporting by Anne Pallivathuckal in Bangalore; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier)

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