Oklahoma City-based OGE Energy Corp. beat analysts estimates with first quarter 2012 earnings of $47.5 million from revenue of $840.7 million.
During the first quarter of 2011, the energy company earned $29.7 million on total revenue of $840.5 million.
The per share earnings of 38 cents for the first quarter were well ahead of the consensus estimate of 33 cents.
OG&E has more than 792,000 customers in a service territory spanning 30,000 square miles in Oklahoma and western Arkansas, and of OGE Enogex Holdings LLC, a midstream natural gas business with principal operations in Oklahoma. Of its customer base, about 64,700 are in western Arkansas.
"We are pleased with the performance at both of our businesses," Pete Delaney, OGE Energy chairman and CEO, said in the earnings statement released Thursday (May 3) morning. "Enogex is performing well in a difficult natural gas price environment, highlighting the strategic location of our assets and new investments in the liquids rich natural gas basins of Oklahoma and the Texas panhandle. And, the utility continues to benefit from a variety of investments that have created value for customers."
Net income in the electric utility business was $12 million in the first quarter, compared with $6 million in the 2011 period.
Net income from OGE Enogex Holdings increased from $19 million in the first quarter of 2011 to $25 million in the first quarter of 2012.
The OG&E earnings report also provides a clear picture of the price shift between natural gas and coal for the purposes of electric power generation. During the first quarter of 2012, the per KWH cost to generate power with natural gas was 2.937 cents, down from 4.39 cents in the 2011 period.
The cost of coal per KWH during the first quarter of 2012 was 2.246 cents, ahead of the 2.033 cents during the 2011 period.
OG&E shares (NYSE: OGE) opened Thursday at $53.48 and was up around 3% in early afternoon trading. During the past 52 weeks the share price has ranged from a $57.54 high to a $40.56 low.