Progress Energy Inc. (NYSE: PGN) reported a stronger than expected first quarter on Monday, citing stronger performance from restructuring efforts.

The power company said its net income rose to $275 million, or $1.08 per share for fiscal first quarter. This compares to the $45 million, or 18 cents per share seen in the same quarter of last year.

The net income for the firm rose primarily because of its discontinued Competitive Commercial Operations unit.

Earnings excluding non-recurring items would have been 61 cents a share. The results were up from analysts expectations, which predicted 49 cents per share according to a poll by Thomson Financial.

Overall, revenue at the diversified energy company rose by 5 percent to $2.3 billion, compared to the $2.2 billion earned during the same period last year.

We are off to a good start in 2007, said Bob McGehee, chairman and CEO of Progress Energy.

Shares of the firm rose 6 cents, or .1 percent to $51.83 in pre market trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

Ongoing earnings were $204 million, or 80 cents per share, compared to $126 million, or 50 cents per share. The company attributed the increase primarily to its synthetic fuel operating results, lower income taxes, along with growth and usage and reduced interest expense.

The company also said that as a result of its ‘solid’ first quarter results, it would reaffirm its “core ongoing earnings guidance of $2.70 to $2.90 per share.

The firm, which operates a number of energy facilities around the United States, said its core operations in the Carolina's and Florida both reported stronger ongoing earnings per share.

The Carolina's unit added 28,000 customers over the course of the previous year, increasing earnings to 48 cents per share from 35 cents per share. Florida energy operations added 31,000 customers, and saw earnings rise 3 cents to 24 cents per share. Both benefited from lower income taxes.

Based in Raleigh, NC, Progress serves approximately 3.1 million customers in North Carolina, South Carolina and Florida. The company also includes energy marketing and other non-regulated operations.