Progress Stock Reaches 52-Week High after Earnings Report

One-time gain of natural gas subsidiary helps boost energy firm’s profits.

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RALEIGH, N.C. – Shares in Progress Energy climbed to a 52-week high on Wednesday after the energy provider disclosed earnings of $1.01 per share for the fourth quarter of 2006.

Progress stock (NYSE: PGN) climbed as high as $50.10, 10 cents higher than the previous one-year high reached on Jan. 3. The stock has climbed nearly $10 per share since sinking to a 52-week low of $40.27 last May.

By Wednesday's close, PGN shares dropped back to $49.92, up 50 cents for the day.

Overall 2006 revenues decreased slightly to $2.27 billion from $2.3 billion in 2005.

The earnings were given a big one-time boost by the sale of Progress’ natural gas assets. Minus the gain, the per-share profit would have been 65 cents, down from 72 cents in the same quarter of 2005.

Progress cited milder weather and decreased production of synthetic fuels (for which the company receives federal tax incentives) for earnings of $164 million vs. $179 million in the 2005 quarter.

Analysts polled by Thomson Financial/First Call had expected earnings of 53 cents per share.

For all of 2006, Progress reported a net profit of $571 million, or $2.28 per share. That was down from $697 million, or $2.82 per share, in 2005.

"2006 was a very good year for Progress Energy," said Bob McGehee, chairman and chief executive officer of Progress. "We achieved very positive financial results, and we took significant steps in strategically positioning the company to enter an era of expansion and growth in our utilities. Our balance sheet is strong, our mission is clear, and our people are delivering superior operating results."

During 2006, Progress did cut its debt by $1.7 billion.

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