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Published: Friday, 4/20/2012

American Electric Power 1st-quarter profit rises 10 percent

Higher rates offset lower demand


NEW YORK — American Electric Power Co. said Friday that its first-quarter earnings rose more than 10 percent on growing industrial demand and higher rates that offset lower power use during an extremely mild winter.

AEP said combined residential and commercial demand for power remained weak in the first three months of the year. The number of days where the outside temperature was cold enough for a family or business to crank on the heat was 37 percent lower than the first quarter a year ago.

American Electric Power is one of the country's largest electric utilities, delivering electricity to more than 5 million customers in 11 states from Ohio to Texas.

Its adjusted earnings beat Wall Street estimates while revenue fell short of expectations. Its shares edged up 8 cents to $37.81 in premarket trading.

The Columbus, Ohio, company said that its net income rose to $389 million, or 80 cents per share in the January-to-March period, compared with $353 million, or 73 cents per share, a year earlier.

Excluding one-time items, it earned 82 cents per share in the most recent quarter. That was 3 cents per share higher than the 79 cents per share that analysts expected, according to a FactSet survey.

Revenue fell 2 percent to $3.6 billion from $3.7 billion a year ago. Analysts expected sales of $3.65 billion.

The company said it can't predict its earnings for the full year because of uncertainty surrounding a rate plan dispute with the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio. Many residents were upset by a rate plan that was approved by utility regulators last year and spurred numerous complaints. The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio then rejected the plan and called for a new one.

AEP submitted a proposal in March that discards several charges that delivered high bills to businesses, churches and schools while retaining a request to collect fees when customers switch to competitors.

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