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Sempra Ups 2006 Guidance, Puts Argentine Gas Assets on the Block

Due to increased profitability at its commodities business, San Diego-based Sempra Energy said Wednesday it expects full-year 2006 earnings from continuing operations, excluding impacts related to asset sales, to exceed $4 per share, a significant increase over the company's previous estimate of $3.50 to $3.70. The company noted that final year-end and fourth quarter results will be announced on Feb. 22.

In addition, the company also reported that it has decided to sell its interests in two Argentine natural gas distribution companies. Sempra owns 37% of Camuzzi Gas Pampeana SA and 39% of Camuzzi del Sur SA. Both are based in Buenos Aires.

"We are extremely pleased with our financial performance this year," said Sempra CEO Donald E. Felsinger. "The decision to sell our Argentine investments is a continuation of our strategy to shed nonstrategic assets and focus on growing our natural gas infrastructure and marketing businesses and our California utilities."

Sempra said the asset sales affecting earnings from continuing operations that are excluded from the new earnings guidance are a third quarter gain of $204 million on the sale of the Topaz Texas power plants and a fourth quarter noncash impairment charge of approximately $200 million resulting from the company's decision to sell its interests in the Argentine natural gas distribution companies.

Sempra and its subsidiaries develop energy infrastructure, operate utilities and provide related products and services to more than 29 million consumers in the United States, Europe, Canada, Mexico, South America and Asia.

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