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Exelon 4Q profit rises, adjusted results miss view

CHICAGO — Power plant operator Exelon Corp. on Wednesday said that its fourth-quarter profit rose 16 percent, but its adjusted results missed Wall Street expectations due to higher costs and unfavorable weather conditions.

Its shares slipped in midday trading after sinking to a 52-week low earlier in the session. The company is one of the nation’s largest utilities with operations in the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic regions.

For the three months ended Dec. 31, Exelon reported net income of $606 million, or 91 cents per share, compared with $524 million, or 79 cents per share, in the year-earlier period.

Adjusted for one-time items, including certain hedging activities, acquisition costs and the phase out of certain power plants, fourth quarter profit came to 82 cents per share, down from 96 cents the prior year.

Revenue slipped 5 percent to $4.25 billion from $4.49 billion a year earlier.

Analysts, on average, were expecting profit of 88 cents per share, on revenue of $4.79 billion, according to data provided by FactSet. Analysts typically exclude one-time items from their estimates.

The company attributed the decline in adjusted results to higher operating and maintenance costs and an extra scheduled refueling outage in its nuclear power unit, unfavorable weather in its PECO Energy Co. and Commonwealth Edison Co. territories and increased depreciation and amortization expenses. Those factors were partially offset by better profit margins for its nuclear power unit, higher rates at PECO and ComEd and the elimination of a charge at PECO.

Exelon said it continued to work with Constellation Energy Group Inc. on its planned $7.9 billion takeover of the Baltimore-based utility. The companies are still seeking approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and Maryland regulators, but have gotten the go-ahead from the Justice Department, shareholders and regulators in several other states.

During the quarter, the company’s wind energy unit completed its first commercial project, located in Minden City, Mich., was completed. Exelon Wind has a 20-year deal to sell the output from the project to Consumers Energy, based in Jackson, Mich. A second project in that state is planned to begin early this year.

The company also acquired another, wind power generation facility in Kansas during the fourth quarter. It is expected to begin full commercial operation in the fourth quarter of this year.

For the full year, Exelon said its profit slipped 3 percent to $2.5 billion, or $3.75 per share, from $2.56 billion, or $3.87 per share, in 2010. Revenue rose 3 percent to $19.18 billion, from $18.64 billion.

In midday trading, Exelon shares fell 43 cents to $38.79 after hitting a 52-week low of $38.57 earlier in the session. The stock has traded as high as $45.45 in the past year.