May 5, 2010 | last updated May 29, 2012 7:15 pm

Warm temps dampen NU's 1Q net

The Hartford parent of Connecticut Light & Power and Yankee Gas Systems on Wednesday blamed New England's unseasonable warmth for weaker distribution of electricity that caused a 12 percent drop in first-quarter income.

Northeast Utilities Inc. said net income in the January-March period fell to $86.2 million, or 49 cents a share, from $97.7 million, or 60 cents a share, the same period a year ago.

Revenues in the period dropped 16 percent to $1.34 billion from $1.59 billion last year.

NU announced its results after Wednesday's stock trading, where it closed down 29 cents, or 1.1 percent, at $27.09.

CL&P, along with NU's two other electric utilities, Western Massachusetts Electric Co. and Public Service Co. of New Hampshire, all posted lower retail electric sales and lower distribution earnings for the first three months of this year.

Overall, NU's retail electric sales were down 4.9 percent in the first quarter. They were down 2.5 percent on a weather-adjusted basis.

Yankee Gas, by contrast, made money and actually saw natural gas sales increase, the parent said.

NU Chairman and CEO Charles W. Shivery said aside from the damper of warm weather, earnings were hurt by lower profits from its competitive businesses and higher employee health benefit costs tied to health care reform.

Shivery said the utility parent booked in the quarter $3 million after-tax charges associated with the health care legislation. Earnings per share also reflect the sale of almost 19 million NU shares in March 2009, he said.

Despite the first-quarter falloff, NU affirmed its outlook for 2010 earnings between $1.80 and $2 a share.

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