(By Balachander) Exelon Corp. (NYSE: EXC) announced plans to slash its quarterly dividend by 41 percent and the energy provider issued its first-quarter earnings forecast that trailed market expectations.
The electric and gas utility will cut its dividend to 31 cents in the second quarter from 52.5 cents a share.
"We have revised our dividend...to position us to maintain our investment grade rating, return a stable dividend and provide capacity to invest in growth," said CEO Christopher Crane.
The stock, which has been trading in the 52-week range of $28.40 to $40.31, added 3.74 percent to trade at $32.15 on Thursday.
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The company expects operating earnings per share in the range of 60 cents to 70 cents for the first quarter, while analysts expect 74 cents.
The company, meanwhile, posted a 38 percent drop in fourth-quarter earnings as operating costs increased sharply, while its revenue growth fell short of expectations.
GAAP net income was $378 million for the three months ended December, while adjusted EPS of 64 cents matched Wall Street projections.
Operating revenue for the fourth quarter was $6.4 billion on a non-GAAP basis, while analysts expected $8.43 billion.
Total operating expenses surged 68.5 percent.
Exelon sees 2013 adjusted operating earnings of $2.35 to $2.65 per share, while analysts expect $2.52.