UPDATE 1-TransAlta profit rises on lower maintenance costs

Wed Feb 27, 2013 9:27am EST

* Expects costs to fall by about C$25 mln-C$30 mln by 2013

* Fourth-qtr comparable EPS C$0.21 vs C$0.13 year earlier

* Revenue falls 6 percent

Feb 27 (Reuters) - Canadian power generation company TransAlta Corp reported a 58 percent rise in fourth-quarter profit, helped in part by lower maintenance costs.

TransAlta, which has plants in Canada, the United States and Australia, said it expects costs to fall by C$25-C$30 million by 2013. The company did not provide total cost figures for 2012 or 2013.

Net earnings attributable to common shareholders for the quarter ended Dec. 31 rose to C$38 million ($37 million), or 15 Canadian cents per share, from C$24 million, or 11 Canadian cents per share, a year earlier.

Comparable earnings increased to 21 Canadian cents per share from 13 Canadian cents per share.

The Calgary-based company said comparable earnings were driven by the acquisition of the 125 megawatt dual-fuel Solomon power station, which is in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.

The company said in September the acquisition was expected to generate unlevered after-tax returns in the low double digits and pre-financing cash flows of about C$40 million per year.

TransAlta's revenue in the fourth quarter fell 6 percent to C$661 million.

Funds from operations for the company -- whose energy sources are coal, natural gas, hydro, wind and geothermal -- rose 8 percent to C$205 million.

The company said in October it expects to incur a one-time after-tax charge of C$10 million-C$15 million in the fourth quarter related to about 165 job cuts.

TransAlta had said most of the cuts would be in its Calgary office and would extend over six months.

TransAlta shares closed at C$16.37 on Tuesday on the Toronto Stock Exchange. The stock has fallen about 23 percent in the past 12 months.

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