Calpine returns to a profit in 4th quarter

HOUSTON — Independent power producer Calpine returned to a profit in its fourth quarter, partly helped by some lower expenses and an income tax benefit.

For the three months ended Dec. 31, the Houston company earned $100 million, or 22 cents per share. That compares with a loss of $13 million, or 3 cents per share, a year ago.

Stripping out debt extinguishment costs and other items, its adjusted loss for the current quarter was $86 million. That’s compared with $43 million in the prior-year period.

Calpine said Wednesday that the bigger loss was mostly due to lower commodity margins that were largely related to the seasonality of its business.

Analysts forecast a loss of 5 cents per share, according to a FactSet survey.

Commodity expense declined, as did interest expense. Calpine reported an income tax benefit of $4 million in the quarter, while the prior-year period included an income tax expense of $23 million.

Operating revenue fell 6 percent to $1.37 billion from $1.46 billion.

Wall Street expected revenue of $2.37 billion.

Calpine Corp. earned $199 million, or 42 cents per share, for the year. In the previous year it lost $190 million, or 39 cents per share. Annual revenue declined 19 percent to $5.48 billion from $6.8 billion.

Calpine shares closed at $19.78 on Tuesday.