Laclede Gas Co. reported that it expects fiscal year earnings to be 15% to 23% higher than a year ago, in the range of $1.58 to $1.68 per share. They were $1.37 per share in 2000. However, this is below Wall Street estimates, the consensus of which is $1.86, according to Thomson Financial/First Call. Laclede said it will announce third-quarter earnings on July 26.

Reasons for the variance include:

Laclede said it expects third-quarter results will show a quarterly loss in the range of $0.20 to $0.25 per share. Last year, Laclede earned a $0.02 profit in the third quarter, which resulted from higher income generated from its Gas Supply Incentive Program (GSIP) and increased off-system sales opportunities. This was only the third time since 1990 that it had recorded a profit in its third quarter.

“The nature of Laclede’s core business–the distribution and sale of heating energy–requires us to maintain our distribution system year-round, but generates most of our revenue within a few cold-weather months,” the company said. “Therefore, we generally post losses in the warm spring and summer months that comprise the third and fourth quarters of our fiscal year.”

Laclede Gas is the largest natural gas distribution company in Missouri, serving 633,000 customers in St. Louis and surrounding counties in eastern Missouri.

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