San Diego Business Journal

Sempra Energy announced Aug. 2 that its 2005 earnings-per-share forecast increased from a range of $3.10-$3.30 to a range of $3.20-$3.40.

The increase is based on expected earnings improvements primarily at the San Diego-based company's utility and commodities businesses during the remainder of the year.

Sempra also released an un-audited second-quarter earnings report showing 2005 earnings of $121 million, or 48 cents per diluted share, compared with earnings of $121 million, or 52 cents per diluted share, in the same quarter in 2004.

For the first six months of 2005, Sempra's earnings were $344 million, or $1.40 per diluted share, which is up about 8 percent from the $318 million, or $1.37 per diluted share reported in the first half of 2004. According to a company statement, earnings per share in 2005 have been affected by a greater number of shares outstanding.

"We are pleased with our second-quarter performance and expect improved results from our California utilities, Sempra Commodities and other businesses over the next two quarters to meet our increased earnings guidance for the year," said Stephen Baum, Sempra's chairman and chief executive officer.

The company's revenues for the second quarter were $2.3 billion compared with $2 billion in last year's second quarter. The boost is primarily a reflection of higher natural gas commodity prices at California utilities and increased power and natural gas sales by other Sempra businesses.

While the net income at Southern California Gas Co. rose from $50 million in the 2004 second quarter to $58 million in the 2005 second quarter, the same cannot be said for San Diego Gas & Electric Co.

This year's second-quarter net income for SDG & E; dipped slightly from $30 million in the first half of 2004 to $29 million in the first half of 2005. The dip is attributed to reduced revenues and higher operating costs at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station.

Sempra Commodities also dropped in the 2005 second quarter from $46 million in the same time frame in 2004 to $26 million this year. But the company expects most of approximately $50 million in anticipated after-tax profits to be recognized before the end of this year.

Sempra Generation, however, increased its net income from $19 million in last year's second quarter to $27 million in this year's second quarter.

The net income of Sempra Pipelines and Storage in the 2005 second quarter was $16 million compared with $17 million in the 2004 second quarter.

Although Sempra LNG reported a net loss of $5 million in the 2005 second quarter compared with a net loss of $2 million in the 2004 second quarter, a new 20-year supply agreement with Eni, S.p.A., announced Aug. 1, is expected to turn things around.

Sempra trades on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol SRE.

Jessica Long