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Archive for Saturday, March 31, 2001

PROFITS

March 31, 2001

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Topeka-based Western, which owns KPL and KGE electric utilities, reported yearly earnings of $1.96 a share, up $1.76 from 20 cents in 1999. The report came after Friday's market close.

Western shares closed Friday at $23.85, down 14 cents, or 0.58 percent.

Last year Western sold interests in several unregulated businesses, including Hanover Compressor Co. and Paradigm Direct. The sales contributed $1.13 toward earnings for 2000.

Earnings for Western's electric operations dropped during the year. Electric earnings were $1.13, down 13 cents, or 10.3 percent, from 1999. Western attributed the drop to a hotter-than-normal summer, which forced the company to boost use of its plants powered by high-priced natural gas to keep up with demand.

The earnings report comes as Western seeks regulatory approval for increasing electric rates in Kansas. Rates would go up by 19 percent in the KPL service area, which includes Lawrence.

Western also wants to merge its electric operations with the Public Service Co. of New Mexico. Western has a KPL plant in Lawrence.

Also included in Western's earnings report Friday:

l Protection One, Western's monitored-security subsidiary, lost 85 cents per share last year, down 17 cents, or 16.7 percent, from $1.02 per share in 1999. Year 2000 amounts included a gain from the retirement of Protection One debt; a one-time accounting change decreased Western's earnings by 5 cents per share.

l The company's 45 percent investment in ONEOK Inc. contributed 55 cents to earnings per share in 2000, down 2 cents, or 3.5 percent, from 57 cents per share in 1999.

-- Business editor Mark Fagan can be reached at 832-7188.

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