DTE Energy beats profit estimates on lower costs, non-utility gains

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April 27 (Reuters) - U.S. electric and gas utility firm DTE Energy Co (DTE.N) beat estimates for first-quarter profit on Thursday, as lower costs and upbeat performance of a unit that develops energy projects partially offset a decline in demand for electricity and gas.

Unfavourable weather including warmer-than-usual winter and storms in certain states were seen pressuring earnings of most U.S. utilities in the March quarter.

DTE Energy Chief Executive Officer Jerry Norcia said the company experienced the "most challenging two-week storm period we have ever faced earlier in the year".

The company is working to strengthen its grid to deal with increasingly severe weather patterns and growing energy demands, Norcia said.

Operating income of DTE Energy's electric unit fell to $101 million in the first quarter from $201 million a year earlier, while the gas unit's income declined 12.7% to $171 million.

The drop was cushioned by the upbeat performance of DTE Vantage, a unit that manages energy projects, and reduction in operating and maintenance costs.

The Detroit-based company's operating income was $1.33 per share. Analysts on an average had expected a profit of $1.25 per share.

Reporting by Mrinalika Roy in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu

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