January 29, 2009 / 3:13 PM / 9 years ago

UPDATE 1-TransAlta profit drops; boosts dividend

*Comparable earnings C$0.40 vs C$0.51

*Boosts dividend by 7.4 percent

*Shares down to C$22.68

(Adds details)

TORONTO, Jan 29 (Reuters) - TransAlta Corp (TA.TO) boosted its quarterly dividend by more than 7 percent on Thursday, despite reporting a lower fourth-quarter profit.

The company, Canada’s biggest investor-owned power generator, increased its dividend to 29 Canadian cents a share, up from its previous of 27 Canadian cents.

TransAlta, known for coal and gas-fired power plants, as well as wind and geothermal facilities in Canada and the United States, said net income fell to C$94 million ($77.3 million), or 47 Canadian cents per share, from C$130 million, or 64 Canadian cents, in the fourth quarter of 2007. In the year-earlier period, it benefited from a reduction in the Canadian federal corporate income tax rate.

Comparable earnings, which exclude most one-time items, dropped to C$79 million, or 40 Canadian cents per share, from C$103 million, or 51 Canadian cents, for the same time in 2007, because of outages at some of its generators.

The company was expected to post comparable earnings of 41 Canadian cents per share, according to the average of analyst forecasts compiled by Reuters Estimates.

Revenue rose 3.2 percent to C$808 million from C$783 million.

The shares were off 2 Canadian cents at C$22.68 on the Toronto Stock Exchange. ($1=$1.22 Canadian)

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