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Published: Thursday, 4/28/2005

FirstEnergy reports decline for quarter

Despite a proposed record $5.45 million fine for allowing a Davis-Besse reactor head to become so corroded it nearly burst, FirstEnergy Corp. reported yesterday that its first-quarter earnings, although down, exceeded expectations.

It was $159.7 million, or 48 cents a share, compared with $174 million, or 53 cents a share for the same period a year ago. Analysts polled by Thomson Financial Network forecast 43 cents a share profit.

The Akron energy company previously reserved $2 million in anticipation of a fine from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission involving the 2002 Davis-Besse incident and, last quarter, booked an additional $3.5 million, or a penny a share.

FirstEnergy, which owns the Toledo area's primary electric provider in Toledo Edison, said it had $2.8 billion in revenue for the quarter, down 7 percent from $3 billion in the same period last year.

The company's stock closed up 35 cents a share yesterday at $42.87 on the New York Stock Exchange.

Company officials told analysts and investors during a conference call that the utility expects to file a rate plan with state regulators in a few weeks for increased fuel and fuel-related costs beginning Jan. 1.

The amount has not been finalized, officials said.

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