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Gaz de France revenue rises 21% on higher gas prices

Gaz de France SA, the operator of Europe's biggest natural-gas network, said full-year revenue rose 21% as it benefited from higher gas prices.

Sales climbed to €27.6 billion ($36 billion) from €22.9 billion a year earlier, the company said in an e-mailed statement. Analysts expected €28.5 billion, according to the median estimate in a Bloomberg News survey. Gaz de France SA is trying to merge with Suez SA, the operator of Belgium's biggest power supplier and the world's second-largest water company. The company said January 23 it would meet targets for 2006 net income of €2.2 billion even after Europe's warmer-than-normal winter.

„Because home heating is based very much on natural gas, the warm winter weather is important for GDF,” Steven de Proost, an analyst at Dexia Securities in Brussels with a „neutral” recommendation on the shares, said before the release. Gaz de France, the former French natural gas monopoly, also expects earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization of more than €5 billion. It reports 2006 earnings on March 13. The company posted €19.11 billion in nine-month revenue. It doesn't break out quarterly results. Suez said Feb. 1 its 2006 revenue rose 6.7% to €44.3 billion. (Bloomberg)