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Puget Energy Earnings Cut in Half; 15-Million-Share Sale Announced

Belllevue, WA-based Puget Energy, holding company for the combination utility, Puget Sound Energy (PSE), announced late Wednesday its earnings for the third quarter were reduced by about half of the results for the same period last year, and that the holding company plans to sell 15 million shares of common stock to fund utility operations and reduce short-term debt tied to a nonutility merchant construction business. Puget shares were selling at $20.85 early Thursday.

Puget Energy announced that its net income for the third quarter ended last Sept. 30 was $5.9 million, or 6 cents/diluted share, compared with $11.1 million, or 11 cents/share, for the same period in 2004. PSE reported net income from utility operations was $6.2 million, compared to net income of $9.6 million for the third quarter last year. The company said it will formally announce quarterly earnings Nov. 1 as previously announced.

"We are taking the necessary operational and financial steps to meet future load requirements and provide a reliable, low-cost energy supply to our growing region," said Puget Energy CEO Stephen Reynolds, noting the pending stock sale will boost the utility operations and "strengthen" the company's balance sheet.

The upcoming sale will be made under Puget Energy's effective shelf registration statement previously filed with the federal Securities and Exchange Commission, the company said. Lehman Brothers Inc. will be the sole underwriter of the offering, and Lehman has a 30-day option to purchase up to an additional 1.7 million shares of common stock if it sells more than the planned 15 million shares.

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