Cold weather drives up AEP earnings

Tuesday, April 29th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) _ American Electric Power said Tuesday it earned $440.1 million in the first quarter, partly because cold weather increased sales.

The nation's largest provider of electricity reported earnings of $1.24 per share for the quarter that ended March 31, compared with a year-ago loss of $218.2 million, or 52 cents per share.

AEP's revenue increased from $3.2 billion in first quarter 2002 to $4.1 billion this year.

The Columbus-based company reported ongoing earnings, which exclude one-time costs, of 61 cents per share. That was two cents better than last year and 10 cents higher than estimates by analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call.

Improved wholesale power sales, which increased 10 percent, were the largest contributor to the increase in earnings.

``We work hard to have the plants available at peak times to benefit from higher market prices,'' said E. Linn Draper Jr., AEP's chairman, president and chief executive officer. ``That strategy paid off for us in the first quarter.''

Shares of AEP were trading at up 40 cents, or about 2 percent, at $25.68 Tuesday morning on the New York Stock Exchange.

AEP has about 5 million customers in 11 states: Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia.