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Toledo Edison parent, FirstEnergy, 4Q profit rises 24 percent

AKRON, Ohio FirstEnergy Corp. said Tuesday its fourth-quarter profit rose 24 percent driven by higher revenues related to wholesale generation sales, lower operating and financing costs and a lower effective income tax rate.

FirstEnergy said its net income for the three months ended Dec. 31 amounted to $332 million, or $1.09 per share, on revenue of $3.2 billion, compared with a profit of $268 million, or 87 cents per share, on revenue of $3.1 billion a year earlier.

Excluding one-time items, earnings were $1.21 per share. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters expected $1.03 per share. Those estimates generally don't include one-time items.

FirstEnergy's power plants, which supply electricity to customers in Ohio, Pennsylvania and New Jersey, produced a company record 82.4 million megawatt-hours in 2008.

President and CEO Anthony Alexander said the Akron, Ohio-based company remained focused on challenges brought on by the recession.

"These conditions are expected to impact FirstEnergy on several fronts this year, including reduced customer loads particularly in the industrial sector, and softer energy prices," Alexander said during a conference call with analysts.

For all of 2008, FirstEnergy earned $1.34 billion, or $4.38 per share, versus $1.31 billion, or $4.22 per share, in 2007. Revenue was $13.6 billion in 2008, compared with $12.8 billion in 2007.

FirstEnergy's results are in contrast to the struggles some other electricity companies have reported as industrial production decreases. U.S. electricity demand fell 1 percent in the fourth quarter and it will likely fall 0.5 percent in 2009 before rebounding in 2010, according to the Energy Information Administration.

American Electric Power Co., based in Columbus, Ohio, said Jan. 29 that its fourth quarter earnings fell 34 percent, while seeing declining industrial sales and softening residential demand due to the recession.

New York-based Consolidated Edison Inc., which supplies power to the New York metropolitan region, said its fourth-quarter profit fell 23 percent.

But Duke Energy Corp., based in Charlotte, N.C., said Feb. 2 that its fourth-quarter profit rose 36 percent as unusually cold weather drove demand for energy.

FirstEnergy operating companies comprise the nation's fifth largest investor-owned electric system.

Company shares rose $1.82, or 4 percent, to $47.25 Tuesday in afternoon trading. Its shares have traded within a one-year range of $41.20 and $84.00.

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