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Westar Energy Q4, full-year net income misses Street estimates by wide margin

Westar Energy Inc. posted fourth-quarter 2017 net income attributable to the company of $33.9 million, or 24 cents per basic share, missing the S&P Capital IQ consensus normalized EPS estimate of 40 cents. The Kansas electric utility had booked $53.9 million, or 38 cents per share, in fourth-quarter 2016 net income.

The year-over-year decrease in net income primarily resulted from writing off deferred income tax assets due to the federal tax reform and lower corporate-owned life insurance income, the company said in its Feb. 21 earnings release.

Fourth-quarter revenues were down to $594.8 million in 2017, from $606.5 million a year earlier, while income from operations grew to $117.3 million, from $115.9 million prior-year period.

On a full-year basis, Westar Energy reported net income attributable to the company of $323.9 million, or $2.27 per share, a decrease of 6.5% from $346.6 million, or $2.43 per share, in 2016.

The S&P Capital IQ consensus normalized EPS estimate for 2017 was $2.47 per share.

The decrease in earnings resulted from lower retail sales attributable to mild weather and having received no corporate-owned life insurance income.

The company generated $2.57 billion in full-year 2017 revenues, compared with $2.56 million a year earlier, and income from operations of $658.7 million, compared with $681.9 million in 2016.

The utility, which is in the middle of a pending merger deal with Great Plains Energy Inc., will pay a quarterly dividend of 40 cents per share on April 2 to shareholders of record March 9. Upon the closing of the stock-for-stock merger of equals, the combined company's dividend would be a 15% increase for Westar shareholders.