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Entergy Falls on Pensions Costs, Gas Prices: Houston Mover

Entergy Corp., the second-largest operator of U.S. nuclear plants, fell after warning that pension costs may drag 2012 earnings to the bottom end of the company’s forecast.

Shares fell 1.5 percent to close at $69.38 in New York.

Pension expenses of 24 cents a share and volatile wholesale electricity prices may steer 2012 results to the bottom end of the $5.40 to $6.20 a share range originally provided in November, Leo Denault, chief financial officer of New Orleans-based Entergy, said during a fourth-quarter earnings call today.

“The pension impact was a little more than some people may have expected,” Paul Patterson, a New York-based utilities analyst with Glenrock Associates LLC, said during a telephone interview. About 75 percent of the pension expense occurred at Entergy’s regulated utilities and may eventually be recovered from customers, said Patterson.

Entergy was also hurt by falling gas prices today, said Patterson. Natural-gas futures dropped 7.2 percent to $2.517 per million British thermal units at 2:26 p.m. on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Fourth-quarter profit fell 32 percent to $154.1 million, or 87 cents a share, from $228.3 million, or $1.26, a year earlier, according to a statement today. Excluding costs for spinning off its transmission business, per-share profit was 5 cents more than the average of 13 analysts’ estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

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