Profit Taking Amid Energy Uncertainty

Times Staff, Reuters

Some investors in deregulated electricity generators have been taking profits in recent days, in part reflecting ongoing uncertainty about the next phase of California's energy crisis.

Heavy selling sent Calpine (CPN) down $2.45 to $43.30 Tuesday, while Mirant (MIR) lost $2.57 to $35.55, Reliant Energy (REI) fell $2.75 to $42.75 and Duke Energy (DUK) slumped $1.70 to $42.50. All trade on the New York Stock Exchange.

Many of the stocks reached record highs in late April or early May as electricity prices jumped amid unseasonably hot weather in much of the country.

But shares of Calpine now have fallen 24% from their peak of $56.99 reached April 30, and they're down 3.9% year to date. Mirant shares have slid 24% from their record high of $47 reached May 21 but still are up 26% year to date.

Concerns about California's next move weighed on the stocks Tuesday, analysts said.

The state Senate is planning this week to subpoena information from Mirant, Reliant, Duke and other electricity generators as part of a probe into alleged collusion to drive up prices of imported power.

Also, the California Public Utilities Commission is expected to miss Friday's deadline to consider Gov. Gray Davis' rescue plan for Southern California Edison, which is owned by Edison International. The utility owes dozens of generators for power they have provided, and the rescue plan is a critical element of any repayment program.

Edison shares (EIX) fell 53 cents to $10.05 Tuesday.

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