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Avista expects 46 percent dip in profits

SPOKANE - Avista said today that third-quarter profit would drop 46 percent from a year ago, and cut its guidance for the year. Its forecast for 2013 also fell short of Wall Street analysts’ prediction.

The Spokane-based utility blamed the shortfall on weak results at its Ecova subsidiary, which helps companies manage energy consumption, along with losses at its non-utility businesses.

Avista Corp. expects net income of $5.8 million, or 10 cents per share, for the quarter ended Sept. 30. That’s down from $10.7 million, or 18 cents per share, a year ago. Analysts polled by FactSet expect a profit of 20 cents per share.

The company’s full third-quarter results come out Nov. 6.

Because of the weak third quarter, Avista forecast profit of $1.50 to $1.60 per share for the year. It had previously predicted profit would come in at the low end of a $1.65 to $1.85 per share range. Analysts expect a 2012 profit of $1.65 per share.

Avista also predicted a 2013 profit of $1.62 to $1.76 per share, below analysts’ prediction of $1.82 per share. The company expects general rate increases to lift utility earnings, but it warned that factors including higher costs and tough economic conditions could limit profit gains.

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