November 3, 2008 / 1:02 PM / 10 years ago

UPDATE 1-Nicor preliminary Q3 earnings below Street

* Affirms FY 2008 shr * Q3 EPS $0.03 below estimates of $0.13 * Sees lower-than-expected results for shipping business

Nov 3 (Reuters) - Nicor Inc’s GAS.N quarterly profit plumetted more than 91 percent, hurt by higher natural gas prices and operating expenses, but the natural gas distributor reaffirmed its 2008 earnings.

The company said it still expects 2008 earnings between $2.20 and $2.40 a share, above analysts’ average estimate of $2.34 a share, according to Reuters Estimates.

For the third quarter, net income fell to $1.3 million from $14.5 million. However, revenue rose 21 percent to $440.3 million.

Natural gas prices rose more than 52 percent to $180 million during the quarter, Nicor said. This contributed to higher revenue but also fuelled higher operating expenses, including gas distribution costs, which grew 26 percent to $431 million.

The price of natural gas, which touched record highs during July, later fell more than 50 percent.

Shares of the Naperville, Illinois-based company closed at $46.21 Friday on the New York Stock Exchange.

For the press release, please click [ID:nBw035243a]. For the alerts, please click [ID:nWNAB6463]. (Reporting by Shradhha Sharma in Bangalore; Editing by Anil D’Silva)

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