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U.S. Ruling Helps Edison Record Profit in Quarter

From Bloomberg News

Edison International on Thursday reported a fourth-quarter profit after a year-earlier loss as the company’s power production business broke even and a regulatory ruling helped its utility, Southern California Edison Co., earn more.

Net income was $197 million, or 60 cents a share, compared with a loss of $24 million, or 7 cents, a year earlier, Rosemead-based Edison said. Sales rose 7.6% to $2.66 billion.

Chief Executive John E. Bryson has been working to slash debt accumulated during California’s energy crisis of 2000-01. The company’s power production unit has stemmed losses caused by a collapse in wholesale electricity prices in 2002.

“The utility earnings are way up, and the wholesale prices are better,” said Jeff Hoffman, an analyst at Buckingham Research Group in New York who rates Edison shares at “neutral” and doesn’t own any.

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Edison shares rose 30 cents, or 1.3%, to $23.10 on the New York Stock Exchange. The stock has jumped 87% in the last year.

Fourth-quarter profit from continuing operations at Southern California Edison, the state’s second-largest utility, rose 45% from a year earlier to $222 million, the company said. The utility distributes electricity to about 4.5 million homes and businesses in the state.

Much of the increase in utility income came from resolution of a 1998 case before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the company said. That decision added $60 million to fourth-quarter profit, Chief Financial Officer Theodore Craver said during a conference call with analysts and investors.

Edison Mission Energy, the production unit, broke even on continuing operations after a loss of $13 million in the quarter a year earlier, the company said.

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