PPL Corp.'s (PPL) fourth-quarter earnings rose 13% as revenue more than doubled and the operator of utilities and power plants raised its dividend by 2.9%.
PPL closed deals totaling more than $14 billion last year to purchase two Kentucky utilities and a U.K. electric distribution business in an effort to boost its exposure to regulated power markets, which have generated more robust returns of late. The company's merchant power business, which for now remains PPL's main top-line contributor, has seen its results under pressure as the price of natural gas languishes.
PPL reported a profit of $401 million, up from $355 million a year earlier. On a per-share basis, earnings fell to 69 cents from 73 cents, due to more shares outstanding in the most-recent quarter. Excluding items such as acquisition and integration costs, earnings fell to 70 cents from 83 cents.
Revenue soared to $4.22 billion from $1.86 billion a year earlier.
Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters had most recently forecast earnings of 62 cents on revenue of $3.04 billion.
Operating margin fell to 20.4% from 34.5%.
The company increased its quarterly dividend to 36 cents from 35 cents.
PPL also forecast full-year earnings of $2.15 to $2.45 a share, which reflects its expected decline in margins at its competitive-market supply segment. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters were expecting $2.41 a share.
PPL said higher-value hedge contracts executed amid higher commodity prices are expiring and being replaced by hedge contracts at lower prices.
Shares closed Thursday at $27.71 and were inactive premarket. The stock has fallen 5.8% so far this year.
-By Melodie Warner, Dow Jones Newswires; 212-416-2283; firstname.lastname@example.org