NextEra Quarterly Profit More Than Doubles on Wind Output

NextEra Energy Inc., the largest generator of wind and solar power in North America, said fourth-quarter profit more than doubled as its wind turbines produced more electricity.

Net income rose to $667 million, or $1.59 a share, from $263 million, or 63 cents, a year earlier, Juno Beach, Florida-based NextEra said in a statement today. Excluding gains from contracts used to lock in commodity prices, per-share profit was 2 cents more than the average of 14 analysts’ estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

Sales rose 13 percent to $3.86 billion. Profit more than quadrupled at its wind and solar unit, rising to $402 million from $73 million, the company said. NextEra’s wind farms generated 580,000 more megawatt-hours in the quarter from the same period a year earlier, according to the statement. The company plans to spend as much as $2.3 billion this year and $1.5 billion in 2013 and 2014 on solar development.

“The wind assets performed stronger than expected and while in the fourth quarter the Florida economy wasn’t fantastic, it didn’t stop them from beating estimates by a few pennies,” David Parker, a Tampa, Florida-based analyst with Robert W. Baird & Co., said in a telephone interview.

Florida Power & Light, NextEra’s utility, sold 2.7 percent less power to retail customers in the fourth quarter because of warmer-than-usual weather. Excluding the effects of weather, power demand rose 1.2 percent at the utility, which added about 25,000 more customers during the quarter.

Warmer Fourth Quarter

Average temperatures in Florida were 67 degrees Fahrenheit (19.4 Celsius) during the fourth quarter, 7.3 percent warmer than the same period a year earlier, according to the National Climatic Data Center.

NextEra plans to finish building all its existing wind projects by the end of 2012, before a federal tax credit worth 2.2 cents a kilowatt-hour expires, Chief Financial Officer Moray Dewhurst said on a conference call today.

Per-share earnings this year will be between $4.35 and $4.65, the company said.

NextEra, which has 14 buy, 12 hold and one sell recommendation from analysts, rose 0.4 percent to $59.92 at the close in New York. It was the only company among the 13 members of the Standard & Poor’s 500 Electric Utilities Index to gain today.

“There aren’t many electric stocks that are doing well, but NextEra has held up very well compared to the industry overall,” Michael Worms, a New York-based analyst for BMO Capital Markets, said in a telephone interview.

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