August 4, 2008 / 2:53 PM / 10 years ago

UPDATE 1-Nicor profit beats market expectations, shares rise

(Recasts; adds details, outlook, share movement)

Aug 4 (Reuters) - Natural gas distributor Nicor Inc GAS.N reported better-than-expected quarterly results on higher gas distribution revenue and lower operating costs, and stood by its full-year earnings outlook, sending its shares up seven percent.

Nicor, which is also a transporter of containerized freight in the Bahamas and the Caribbean region, posted preliminary second quarter net income of $28.9 million, or 64 cents a share, compared with $18 million, or 40 cents a share, a year earlier.

Operating revenue rose about 26 percent to $699.8 million, for the second quarter ended June 30, 2008.

Analysts, on average, were expecting earnings of 28 cents a share, excluding items, on revenue of $584 million, according to Reuters Estimates.

The company’s gas distribution revenue rose about 30 percent to $560.1 million. Shipping revenue rose about 6 percent to $102.6 million.

Operating and maintenance costs fell about 4 percent to $59.7 million.

Nicor, based in Naperville, Illinois, reaffirmed its full-year earnings outlook of $2.20 to $2.40 per share.

“Meeting our full-year projections continues to depend on successfully managing costs in all of our businesses, and managing margins in the face of less than expected volumes in our shipping business,” Chief Executive Russ Strobel said in a statement.

Analysts polled by Reuters on average are expecting full-year earnings of $2.33 per share, excluding items.

Shares of the company, which have lost about 7 percent so far this year, are trading up $2.92 at $42.32 in morning trade on the New York Stock Exchange. (Reporting by Sakthi Prasad in Bangalore; Editing by Bernard Orr) ((; within U.S. +1 646 223 8780; outside U.S. +91 80 4135 5800; Reuters Messaging:

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