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Westar Energy, Inc. (WR - Snapshot Report) reported first-quarter 2013 earnings per share of 40 cents, beating the Zacks Consensus Estimate by 10 cents. Quarterly earnings were 19 cents higher than the year-ago level primarily due to improvement in top line backed by higher pricing as well as increase in energy sales during colder climate. These positives were partially offset by higher operating and interest expenses.

First Quarter Operational Update

Westar Energy posted total revenues of $546.2 million, surpassing the Zacks Consensus Estimate by 7%. Reported revenues increased 14.8% year over year primarily due to strong contribution from the Retail Residential, Commercial and Industrial, Wholesale and Transmission segments; partially offset by decline in revenues from the Other retail and Other segments.

The company’s total operating expenses increased 5.4% year over year to $426.3 million primarily owing to higher fuel and purchased power, operating and maintenance, and selling expenses.

Westar Energy reported operating income of $120 million, up 68.1% year over year.

Interest expenses increased 5.3% year over year to $44.3 million primarily due to a rise in long-term debt level.

Financial Condition

Cash and cash equivalents of Westar Energy as of Mar 31, 2013, were $5.6 million, down from $5.8 million as of Dec 31, 2012.

The company’s net long-term debt increased to $3.1 billion as of Mar 31, 2013 from $2.8 billion as of Dec 31, 2012 due to issuance of principal amount of first mortgage bonds.

Westar Energy’s cash flow from operating activities during the first three months of 2013 was $193.6 million, higher than $64 million in the year-ago comparable period.

During the quarter, the company invested $182 million under the capital expenditure program.

Guidance

Westar Energy’s full-year 2013 earnings guidance is in the range of $2.00-$2.15 per share.

Other Company Releases

American Electric Power Co. Inc. (AEP - Analyst Report) reported first quarter earnings of 80 cents per share, in line with the Zacks Consensus Estimate.

Exelon Corporation (EXC - Analyst Report) announced first quarter operating earnings of 70 cents per share, beating the Zacks Consensus Estimate by 2 cents.

Entergy Corporation (ETR - Analyst Report) reported first quarter operational earnings of 94 cents per share that came at par with the Zacks Consensus Estimate.

Zacks Rank

Westar Energy currently has a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

Topeka, Kan.-based Westar Energy provides electricity to retail as well as wholesale customers. The company utilizes coal, natural gas, uranium, wind and landfill gas for electricity generation.

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