PG &E (NYSE:PCG) announced its results for the most recent quarter on October 29, 2012. PG&E distributes electricity and natural gas, generates electricity, and procures natural gas through Pacific Gas and Electric Company.

Investors care about earnings because they drive stock prices. Strong earnings generally result in the stock price moving up and vice versa. SEE: Earnings: Quality Means Everything

The Numbers: PG &E managed to exceed estimates with stronger-than-expected EPS and revenues. The company reported adjusted net income of 93 cents per share versus the 88 cents per share estimate and revenues of $3.98 billion versus the $3.83 billion estimate. Revenue climbed 3% from the same period last year. PG &E's revenue rose last quarter after falling 2.5% to $3.59 billion in the second quarter. For the third quarter, the company reported profit of $364 million. This is 79.3% higher than the year-ago quarter.

Management Quote: "Our results for the quarter reflect continued progress in our ongoing efforts to improve PG&E's operations across the business, with a clear focus on making our system the safest in the country and delivering service reliably and affordably," said Chairman, CEO and President Tony Earley. "We remain fully committed to resolving our gas pipeline issues, positioning PG&E for long-term success, and rebuilding relationships with customers and others."

A Look Back: Net income has dropped 5.3% year-over-year on average across the last five quarters. Performance was hurt by a 65.7% decline in the fourth quarter of the last fiscal year from the year-earlier quarter.

Looking Ahead: Next quarter's results are expected to be more favorable for the company. Over the past 60 days, the average estimate for the fourth quarter has reached 88 cents per share, up from 86 cents. Increasing earnings estimate is a positive sign about the company and it typically leads a increase in the stock price. The average estimate for the fiscal year is now $3.18 per share, down from $3.19 60 days ago.

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