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Exelon Hikes Forecast, To Buy Back $1.25 Billion Shares

Power company Exelon said Tuesday it would buy back up to $1.25 billion of stock and raised the lower end of its 2007 profit forecast.

Shares of the nation's largest nuclear operator climbed $1.92, or 2.7 percent, to $72.59 on the New York Stock Exchange.

Exelon revised its 2007 earnings forecast, excluding special items, to a range of $4.15 to $4.30 per share from a previous estimate of $4.00 to $4.30.

Analysts on average expect the company to earn $4.29 per share in 2007, according to Reuters Estimates.

"With half a year of strong performance behind us, we are revising our 2007 operating earnings guidance to the upper half of our original guidance range," said Chief Executive John Rowe in a statement.

For 2007, Exelon lifted the bottom range of all three of its businesses. The company now expects its wholesale generation unit to post $3.45 to $3.55 per share, its Illinois utility to earn 20 to 25 cents per share and its Pennsylvania utility to add 65 to 70 cents per share to earnings.

Previously, it saw its generation arm earnings $3.40 to $3.60 per share, its Illinois utility earnings 10 to 20 cents per share, and its Pennsylvania utility posting 60 to 65 cents per share.

The revised outlook excludes costs associated with the Illinois electric rate settlement, said Chicago-based Exelon.

Last week, the Illinois governor signed into law a multi-party four-year agreement that provides rate relief to Illinois customers hit by rising electricity bills. Exelon agreed to contribute $800 million to the settlement.

It maintained its net income forecast of $3.70 to $4.00 per share for 2007.

The company said it expects to complete the share repurchase program within the next six months.

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